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Preservationists Push Historic Designation for South Village

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The buildings in a 35-block area just east of the West Village historic district, west of SoHo and north of TriBeCa have their own distinct architecture and history.  The area known as South Village is made up mostly of 19th century merchant houses, turn of the century tenements and small theatres that have produced some of the most influential artists, writers and musicians of our time, like Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, Bernice Abbott, Eugene O’Neil and Edna St.Vincent Millay.

Preservation groups are hoping to get South Village designated a Historic District.

According to the Greenwich Village Historical Preservation Society, the area could be at risk from developers if it is not designated a historic district.  “We’ve lost the tunnel garage, the circle in the square theatre was destroyed, the Sullivan Street Playhouse where the longest running play in American history, “The Fantasticks” played for 50 years, destroyed,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Historical Preservation Society

The Preservation League of New York State has added the South Village to its list of the state’s most threatened historic resources, which “delivers invaluable technical assistance, fosters public awareness and opens the door for grant assistance,” according to Jay DiLorenzo, president of the group. It is hoping this will help set the wheels in motion to get the New York City Landmark’s Commission to designate the area a historic district. 

The Landmark Commission has not set a timeline for a vote on whether to hear the proposals to further expand the Greenwich Village Historic District. 

“While alterations to buildings in a potential historic district are a cause for concern, our experience has shown that changes involving only one, or a small number of buildings relative to the overall size of a large district, do not diminish the integrity of the neighborhood as a whole, or affect the district’s eligibility for designation,” said Elisabeth De Bourbon, spokesperson for The New York City Landmark’s Commission.

View a map of the proposed Historic District

Click for a full-screen view.

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