Volume 77 / Number 52 - May 28 - June 3, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Noho district extension protects 3 more blocks

By Albert Amateau

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has unanimously approved the Noho Historic District Extension, adding 56 new buildings to the Noho and Noho East Historic Districts, which were approved, respectively, in 2000 and 2003.

The three-block extension, which started out as an enclave for the city’s well-to-do families, is bounded on the west by Lafayette St. on the east by Bowery, on the north by E. Fourth St. and on the south by Bond St.

“One of the more remarkable traits of this district is that its buildings vividly demonstrate their adaptability over the past 150 years,” said L.P.C. Chairman Robert Tierney. During different periods, buildings in the Noho Extension have served as single-family homes, warehouses, factories, stores, art galleries, artists’ studios, theaters and apartment buildings.

The earliest buildings include several residences that date to the late 1820s. But most of the buildings in the extension were built between the 1860s and the early 1900s, when the area had become one of the city’s major commercial and manufacturing districts.

“Their architecturally diverse styles are similarly diverse, creating an eclectic and historically rich neighborhood,” Tierney said at the May 13 vote by the commission.

Two of the district’s first residences, at 26 and 51 Bond St., designed in the Federal and Greek Revival styles, are relatively unchanged.

A decade or more after they were built, many of the single-family houses were divided into apartments and boarding houses. Other small buildings erected later, including 27 Great Jones St. — which includes a store and loft — were designed in the Italianate style.

By the late 1800s, larger commercial lofts became the dominant building type, including the six-story Renaissance Revival store-and-loft at 21 Bond St. The architects Cleverdon & Putzel designed the two seven-story lofts with four bays at 20 Bond St. and 47 Great Jones St., as well as buildings in various styles elsewhere in the district.

The historic district extension is also the home of the first branch of the New York Free Circulating Library, which in 1882 converted a Federal-era row house at 49 Bond St. The branch closed in 1919 and the building was later adapted to commercial use.

In the 1950s, as commercial uses declined in the late 19th-century loft buildings, artists began moving in. By 1960, the art studio-residential tenants outnumbered commercial tenants. In that decade the area attracted celebrated artists, including Cy Twombly, who lived and worked at 356 Bowery, Chuck Close at 20 Bond St. and Robert Mapplethorpe at 24 Bond St. Jean-Michel Basquiat, who leased 57 Great Jones St. from Andy Warhol, died of a heroin overdose there in 1988.

Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, hailed the L.P.C. action.

“G.V.S.H.P. and many other neighborhood and preservation groups have long advocated for expanding the Noho Historic District, which still left much of eastern and southern Noho unprotected,” Berman said.

“While the extension does not include the entire neighborhood or every site that we and others had urged to be included, it does significantly extend landmark protection to a rich historic area,” he said.

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