Volume 79, Number 02 | June 17 - 23, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photo by Tequila Minsky

Joe’s Dairy owner Anthony Campanelli, left, and his daughter Olivia, 10, accepted a Village Award for the Sullivan St. store from Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, right.

Demo, dairy, a Dorato among Village Award winners

By Albert Amateau

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation on Monday made its annual Village Awards to the people and places that make the Village the renowned neighborhood beloved by residents, merchants and visitors.

Calvin Trillin, writer and longtime Village resident, presented the awards at the G.V.S.H.P. annual meeting held June 15 at St. Joseph’s Church on Sixth Ave. and Washington Place. The church was one of the winners of the 2009 Village Awards.

The society also re-elected trustees: Mary Ann Arisman, Arthur Levin, Jonathan Russo, Judith Stonehill and Linda Yowell, and elected a new trustee, Vals Osborne.

This year’s award honorees were a mix of landmark merchants and institutions, a social-services provider and restoration projects.

Fedora Dorato was honored for carrying on her family’s tradition of welcoming generations of Villagers and visitors to Fedora restaurant, at 239 W. Fourth St. near Seventh Ave. Fedora Dorato came with her family from Florence in 1931 when she was 10. She has lived upstairs from the restaurant named for her since she married Henry Dorato in a building that Henry’s father bought in 1921, where he ran the restaurant speakeasy Charlie’s Garden. Except for paint jobs and air conditioning, the place has remained the same, with its pressed-metal ceiling, intimate tables and dedicated waiters. Fedora, named for the opera by Umberto Giordano, still does the cooking.

“We’ve always lived in the Village,” Dorato said. “My son went to St. Joseph’s Academy. We’ve got the same neighborhood friends and know their grandchildren when they come in,” she said. A bust of Fedora’s granddaughter and photos of great-grandchildren remind customers they are in a family establishment.

University Parish of St. Joseph also received a Village Award. The award, accepted by Father John McGuire, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, 364 Sixth Ave., cites the church’s 175th anniversary and its exterior restoration and lighting completed in time for last Christmas. The restoration included window woodwork, front and side doors, iron railings, gates and missing finials, polishing historic brass plaques and repainting the building’s front in yellow, the historically correct color. The restoration retained virtually all of the original materials.

Designed by John Doran in the Greek-revival style, the cornerstone was laid June 10, 1833, and the completed church was dedicated March 16, 1834. The church has traditionally made space available for community meetings and cultural events, and for the past 20 years its soup kitchen has fed more than 500 people every Saturday.

Father Demo Square on the triangle at Sixth Ave., Carmine and Bleecker Sts. was honored for the redesign by George Vellonakis, designer for the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the renovation of the center of public life in the Italian South Village. The square was first created in 1941 and named for the long-serving pastor of Our Lady of Pompei Church, Father Antonio Demo. The redesign was prompted by the Carmine St. Block Association and its president David Gruber, Friends of Father Demo Square and the Bedford-Downing Block Association, and financed with city funds secured by Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The renovation enlarged the triangle and included many benches, a low, wrought-iron fence and an imposing central fountain.

Another recipient of a Village Award was the building at 171-173 MacDougal St., between Waverly Place and E. Eighth St., owned since 1927 by the 10th Church of Christ Scientist. The building was honored for its contextual restoration, which respectfully integrates modern features within the historic facade. Just before the 1968 creation of the Greenwich Village Historic District, the facade was converted to a design by the architect Victor Christ-Janer that emphasized the scale of the loft-style building, which was the block’s tallest building when it was built in 1890. The church sold the long-unused upper part of the building several years ago to finance the cost of a needed renovation.

Honored for the building’s current renovation were TRA, the architects for the residential developer, Property Markets Group; Hanrahan Meyers Architects for the church; and Walter B. Melvins Architect for historic preservation of the remaining facade; as well as the contractor, Preserv, Inc.

The Children’s Aid Society – Philip Coltoff Center, at 219 Sullivan St., and its executive director, Steve Wobido, were honored for the vital role the center has played providing educational, recreational and service programs for Village families for 117 years. It was opened in 1892 as the Sullivan St. School for Children’s Aid Society in a building designed by Calvert Vaux in response to the social-services needs of the growing Greenwich Village immigrant and working-class population. Back then, the school taught cooking and trades in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic. Over the years, the center has taken on new names and today offers early-childhood education, after-school programs and summer camp and teen and adult classes that enrich the social, cultural, intellectual and creative lives of participants.

Also garnering an ’09 Village Award was Joe’s Dairy, at 156 Sullivan St. Established around the corner in 1953 and owned now by Anthony Campanelli, Joe’s Dairy was honored for creating what many customers call the best homemade mozzarella in the city, produced fresh every day in its South Village store. Campanelli, who worked in the store part time while in school, bought the place in 1977. The small shop sells Italian basics, including olives, stuffed peppers, dried pasta, olive oil, canned tomatoes and 32 varieties of cheese, in addition to the sweet and hot sausages that hang from overhead pipes. But the boxes labeled “Whole Milk Mozzarella Curd” stacked around the store reveal the true success secret of Joe’s Dairy, the creamy mozzarella, smoked, salted or plain, made fresh every day.

Carmine St. Guitars, at 42 Carmine St., in a three-story Federal-style building was honored for serving Village musicians and for the artistry and tradition of the owner, Rick Kelly, who has been handcrafting guitars at the shop for more than 20 years. Kelly, a master luthier, has been making guitars by hand since 1968. The Carmine St. building has the original yellow-pine floors, exposed brick and 1890s pressed-tin ceiling. Kelly uses many kinds of wood for his guitars but lately has been employing reclaimed wood from demolished old buildings dating from the 1860s to 1890s. He makes three or four custom guitars each month and sells to professionals and amateurs. He said his favorite customer is “the average Joe.”

Finally, the Women’s Prison Association, located since 1874 in the historic Isaac Hooper House built in 1838 at 110 Second Ave., was honored for more than 160 years of dedication to women with criminal-justice histories and for the association’s diligent stewardship of its East Village building.

Under the direction of Georgia Lerner, W.P.A. provides direct assistance to about 2,500 women and their families each year regarding their livelihoods, housing, families, health and well-being, as well as their compliance with the criminal justice system. The services are based in jails and prisons, as well as the communities where the women and their families live. The building was named for the Quaker abolitionist Isaac Hooper, a leading 19th-century advocate for prison reform. His daughter, Abigail Hooper Gibbons, served for years as the association’s president.

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