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City Protects 135 Bowery, Historic Row House

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Photo via Curbed.

The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN) is sending around a news release in celebration of the Landmarks Preservation Commission voting to protect 135 Bowery, a federal style row house, located between Grand and Broome streets.

“After a process of two years, we are pleased by today’s vote of the Commission, which we anticipate will protect this almost 200 year-old dwelling from demolition or inappropriate alterations,” said BAN’s Mitchell Grubler.

The Commission noted:

…135 Bowery House…among the relatively rare surviving and intact Manhattan town houses of the Federal style and period, and is one of only a handful still extant on the Lower East Side and along the Bowery.  The 2 ½-story wood-frame, brick-faced Federal style row house was constructed circa 1818 as the primary residence of John A Hardenbrook, a soap and candle manufacturer who maintained a shop in the still-extant building next door. The design of the 135 Bowery House is characteristic of the Federal style with its Flemish-bond brick work, its minimal wood cornice, and its high peaked roof with dormer windows.

Last June, the Observer reported 135 Bowery owner Ricky Wong was less than pleased about the proposal to landmark his building. Since purchasing the property in 2003, he had planned a major renovation and expansion (including the addition of four levels to the existing structure).  Wong said: “The outside of the building looks ugly… I don’t see any reason to make it a landmark. The front wall of the building is too old. The windows, the walls—they leak water. The windowpanes are all old. It’s all broken.”

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  1. This is a rare, far too rare, victory for New York’s heritage, its architectural integrity, and the beauty of its streets.  Just in the last year or so we’ve lost or are in the process as I write this of losing beautiful old structures on the Bowery, on Henry Street, and on East Fourth Street.  Large stretches of Grand Street east of Mulberry are being torn down, including some very fine old structures, quite a number of them.  It is extremely rare for the newer replacement buildings to improve on the ones they replace, and the add-ons, extra stories slapped onto old structures such as Ricky Wong proposes, are always grotesquely ugly, travesties of architecture.  It’s a pity when property owners have to give up their dreams of making money on a purchase, but a little due diligence on their parts about what they’ve invested in would go a long way toward their being able to avoid this kind of disappointment.  Caveat emptor.

  2. There are so very few actual Houses left in Manhattan, and even fewer that are about to celebrate their 200th birthday. The LPC has done a great thing on the Bowery with this building. It’s a history lesson among history. It is rare and special when so many buildings on one street can talk about pre-war and mean the Civil War!

  3. After the tragic loss of 35 Cooper Square, the landmark designation of 135 Bowery is welcome news. Too many of these wonderful little buildings are being lost to development.

  4. i am thrilled that the commission did the right thing for the bowery.
    more importantly though the whole bowery needs to be protected, landmarked or special historic district designated. if not they will protect a token building now and then when its owned by an immigrant as we loose better buildings to developers with more juice. (35 cooper was a much better federal house and a much rarer 2 1/2 stories, despite what the lpc statement says this is 3 1/2.) 
    vonkob, all of us are not real estate speculators. i own a house in little italy and am VERY supportive of the current effort to designate us a national historic district. my building would loose $ in development value but im more worried about crap buildings  of the china town/ fetters school of architecture like ricky wong  would have built “stealing” the cultural, aestitic, and historical value of my neighborhood. 

  5. Vonkob,

    At present, a bank owns this building. Nothing was stolen from Mr. Wong. It is a shame you view the preservation of historic buildings as a loss. Many other cities–Paris, for instance, who preserve their historic buildings, have found ways to utilize these buildings with no loss involved.

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