Volume 81, Number 4 | June 23 - 29, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Courtesy NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The boundaries of the proposed East Village / Lower East Side Historic District.

The Anthology Film Archives, at 32 Second Ave., was originally the Magistrates Court building.

Pyramid and cinema in proposed district; Church says, Nyet

By Albert Amateau

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is considering an East Village Historic District centered on Second Ave. that includes the renowned Pyramid Club on Avenue A near E. Sixth St. and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on E. Second St.

The proposed district covers parts of 15 blocks and more than 300 properties.

The L.P.C. had proposed smaller areas for study, but on May 24 the commission expanded the boundaries to include additional properties suggested by preservation advocates, Community Board 3 and Councilmember Rosie Mendez.

“We’ve been reaching out to the owners of 17 newly added properties and we’re on track to holding a calendaring vote on June 28 for an expanded East Village/Lower East Side Historic District,” L.P.C. Chairperson Robert Tierney said on June 7.

Advocates, including the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Historic Districts Council, the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative and the East Village Community Coalition, hailed the proposed designation.

Calendaring automatically gives a measure of protection to buildings in the proposed district: The Department of Buildings flags any demolition application in a calendared district and notifies the L.P.C. before issuing a permit.

“We see this as a first step toward ensuring that the East Village remains a living testament to generations of immigrants and artists who called this neighborhood home,” said Andrew Berman, G.V.S.H.P. executive director.

Richard Moses, of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, said he hoped the next step would be to consider St. Mark’s Place and the area to the east around Tompkins Square Park.

However, members and clergy of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection, at 59 E. Second St. between First and Second Aves., are opposed to any landmark designation.

The cathedral, built in 1891 as the Mt. Olivet Memorial Church, had been proposed for individual landmark designation. At a Community Board 3 hearing in July 2010, members insisted the congregation could not afford to meet standards that landmark designation would impose on repairs and maintenance of the 110-year-old house of worship.

Father Dean Michael Suvak said on Friday that the congregation was opposed to the building’s inclusion in the proposed historic district. The cathedral is a member of the Local Faith Community of the East Village, which includes Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy in the neighborhood generally opposed to landmark or historic district designation, Suvak said.

Located across E. Second St. from the landmarked Marble Cemetery, Mt. Olivet Memorial Church was designed by J.C. Cady and Co., architects of the south wing of the American Museum of Natural History. In 1943, the Orthodox Church of America acquired the building and had the interior painted with Byzantine icons.

The proposed district would also include 101 Avenue A, between Sixth and Seventh Sts., built in 1876 and designed by William Jose with an ornate cornice. The Avenue A building contained tenement apartments on the upper floors and public eating and drinking places on the ground floor. In 1979, the Pyramid Club opened on the ground floor of 101 Avenue A, and the club still presents acts ranging from female impersonators to rock bands.

The proposed district also includes the 1918 former Magistrates Court building at 32 Second Ave., which has been the home of Anthology Film Archives for more than three decades.

In addition to several 19th-century tenement buildings, the proposed district includes a late 1830s, Greek Revival-style house at 65 E. Second St. and two Federal-style rowhouses dating to the 1820s at 74-80 E. Second St.

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