West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 2 | June 13 - 19, 2007

Villager file photo

The 13th St. Repertory Co., founded by Edith O’Hara, above, will receive a Village Award.

Garden, butcher, dog run among G.V.S.H.P. honoree

By Albert Amateau

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation will honor nine institutions important to the cultural and physical character of the Village, Noho and East Village at the society’s 17th Annual Village Awards event on Tues., June 19, at the Cherry Lane Theatre.

The event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at the theater, at 38 Commerce St., will also include the installation of G.V.S.H.P. board of trustees members John Bacon, Penelope Bareau, Thomas Harney, Arthur Levin, Peter Mullan, Cynthia Penny, Katherine Schoonover, Judith Stonehill and Arnie Thalacker.

The Liz Christy Community Garden, founded in 1973 on a rubble-strewn, city-owned lot on the northeast corner of Bowery and E. Houston St., will be honored for serving as a model for similar gardens tended by devoted neighbors. Liz Christy reopened on May 12 after being gated for two years during the construction of the Avalon Bowery Place residential project. AvalonBay Communities, developer of the urban renewal site to the north, began working with the Liz Christy gardeners to preserve and expand the garden. AvalonBay is sharing the G.V.S.H.P. award.

The 13th St. Repertory Co., a 65-seat basement theater founded 34 years ago by Edith O’Hara in a 1780 brownstone complex at 10 W. 13th St., will be honored for its work in children’s theater, as well for presenting performances by celebrities such as Norman Mailer, Bette Midler, Vince Izzarry, Chazz Palminteri and Barry Manilow. O’Hara, who recently turned 90, has developed an afternoon acting program for city school children and continues to promote a love of theater among people from all walks of life.

Florence Meat Market, which opened 71 years ago at 5 Jones St., is where ordinary Villagers and celebrities, including Mayor Ed Koch, the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Luciano Pavarotti, have come for meat cut to order. Benny Pizzuco, the third owner since the shop was founded, ably assisted by Maria Alava, makes the Florence a beloved neighborhood institution.

The loving renovation of the exterior and interior of the 1850 townhouse at 81 Barrow St. by owners Bob Oliver and Bill Lavelle is being honored as a neighborhood treasure. Oliver and Lavelle, owners since 1981, have been involved in a work in progress that includes a careful restoration of the facade and the preservation of interior details, including the original floors, doors with etched-glass panels and a marble mantle on the parlor floor.

Kevin Shea, a zoning and land-use attorney in the East Village, is honored for his constant struggle to make developers adhere to zoning and building regulations that protect the scale and character of the neighborhood. He has provided Community Board 3 with information to counter abuse of building rules and has forced one unscrupulous architect to give up his right to self-certify his building plans.

The West Village Dog Owners’ Group, organized in 1993 to address the needs of West Village dog owners, is being recognized for its much-needed dog run on Little W. 12th St. between Washington St. and 10th Ave. The run, which receives no city money, is public but requires annual membership ($40) and is limited to 300 dog owners. The founders and driving forces of the group, Tracey and Randy Sides, live with their rescued dogs in their 19th-century house on Bethune St. The group’s Web site is www.wvdog.org.

Another honoree, St. Mark’s Bookshop, at 31 Third Ave. at Ninth St. since 1993, was founded 30 years ago. The store has more than 40,000 volumes specializing in poetry, cultural and political theory, literature, art, film and philosophy, and is open every day until midnight. The owners, Bob Constant and Terry McCoy, have been with the bookstore since it opened in 1977.

Also a Village Award winner, the Porto Rico Importing Co., at 201 Bleecker St., founded 100 years ago, is a fragrant haven for coffee and tea lovers. Owned by the Longo family for the past 30 years, Porto Rico Importing is now also in the East Village, at St. Mark’s Pl. at Second Ave., and in the South Village, at 107 Thompson St. at Prince St.

A special award this year goes to Bowne & Co., which for the past 12 years has printed gratis the G.V.S.H.P. map and guide to the Village and a series of note cards with vintage photos of the Village for the society. Bowne also prints the invitations and programs for the society’s annual house tour. The company, founded in 1775 by Robert Bowne, a founder with Alexander Hamilton of the Bank of New York, was formerly at 345 Hudson St. in the Printing House District but moved recently to 55 Water St.


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