Rare 200-Year-Old LES Federal Houses Are Endangered in Face of LPC Decalendaring

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 at 5:00 am by

22 East Broadway

Local preservationists are scrambling.

Word dropped last week that the Landmarks Preservation Commission may likely decalendar a pair of rare two-hundred-year-old Federal-style row houses from its agenda by the end of the year. 206 Bowery and 22 East Broadway are back on the endangered list, despite the city’s initial position as significant structures warranting consideration.

The unfortunate turn of events is owed in large part to the passage last year of the Intro. 775 bill in City Council aimed at removing the clutter, as it were, from the calendar. In order to do so, the “anti-landmark bill” essentially establishes “do or die” deadlines for landmark designations that have been stagnating. Meaning, if the LPC doesn’t vote on proposed individual landmarks within one year (two years for districts), then the proposals are removed from the docket.

206 Bowery, for its part, is one of the last intact Federal-era row houses on the Bowery. It remarkably survives in close to original condition from the first period of development along this stretch of the Bowery. The modest 2 ½-story, three bay-wide building has one-foot thick walls of Flemish-bond brickwork, a stone foundation and a gambrel roof with paired gable dormers. It was likely erected around 1825 as part of a group that included the houses sharing party walls at 202, 204 and 208 Bowery.

Many of these Federal-era buildings erected on the Bowery housed a store or workshop on the first floor with a residence on the second floor and a usable attic lit by dormer windows in the pitched roof. Beginning in the 1870s, it is believed that 206 Bowery was solely used for commercial (non-residential) purposes. And an eclectic bunch, at that – Walter Keeler, shoestore (1826-39); James Cooper, fancy goods, hosiery, threads, and needles (1839-53); Thomas Bruns, engraver (1853-60); William Wood, umbrellas and parasols (1853-74); Henry H. Pfalzgraf, cigars (1870-91); Philip and Rosalia Berg, millinery and fancy goods (1870-78); jewelers Sidonia Kampf (c. 1896-99) and Bernhard Hebald (1904-11); Tri-City Barber School (c. 1933-46); New York China Corp. (c. 1975-88); and J&D Restaurant Equipment Corp. (c. 1993-2010).

Much like 206 Bowery, the Federal-style house at 22 East Broadway retains many of its original nearly 200-year-old detail. It was constructed in 1832 for then-district attorney James Whiting and boasts peaked roof, dormers, Flemish bond brick, as well as lintels and sills on the second and third floors.  At the turn of the last century, the building served as the Chatham Square Branch of the New York Free Circulating Library. (That library now occupies 33 East Broadway across the street.)

GVSHP and other preservation-minded groups are sounding the alarm. Head here to support the landmarking of these two historic structures by sending a form letter to LPC.

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