Real Estate

Landmarks Aren’t Always Forever

On a triangular site at Greenwich Avenue, Seventh Avenue and West 12th Street, a grand movie palace was built in 1921, then sold and rebranded as Loew’s Sheridan Theatre in 1926. Attendance waned by the 1960s and it was demolished by its new owner, St. Vincent’s Hospital, in the summer of 1969.

Credit…Fred W. McDarrah/MUUS Collection via Getty Images

Although the theater was in the Greenwich Village Historic District at the time of demolition, St. Vincent’s obtained a demolition permit from the Buildings Department two weeks before the district was created.


Credit…Anthony Camerano/Associated Press

The Jerome Mansion was a fashionable, mansard-roofed pile built in the 1860s for the financier Leonard Jerome, a grandfather of Winston Churchill. Ostentatiously holding the southeast corner of 26th Street and Madison Avenue, it faced Madison Square Park to its west and, after 1890, the glorious second Madison Square Garden to its north. The mansion, which served as home to a series of private clubs after Mr. Jerome decamped, was designated a landmark soon after the creation of the city Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965. But the owners claimed financial hardship, and after the commission tried and failed to find a buyer, the structure was demolished in 1967.


Credit…Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS
Credit…Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS

The Elizabeth Seton Building at 157 West 11th Street, left, the standout main structure of the St. Vincent’s Hospital complex, was built in 1899 with contrasting dark-red brick and light limestone trim.

In the late 1970s, St. Vincent’s, at right, received approval from the landmarks commission to raze the Seton Building, which was in the Greenwich Village Historic District, to make way for a more up-to-date medical pavilion. The plan went forward in the 1980s despite opposition from the landmarks committee of the local community board.


Credit…NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Occupying the former site of Jefferson Market Prison, the monolithic, Art Deco-style Women’s House of Detention incarcerated prisoners from 1932 to 1971 at 10 Greenwich Avenue, gaining notoriety for what the A.I.A. Guide to New York City called “ear-piercing conversations” that were “screamed from barred windows to friends in the street below.” It was leveled in 1974.


Credit…Alamy

Constructed on the Lower East Side as a Baptist church in 1850, the twin-towered Gothic Revival house of worship at 60 Norfolk Street later served Methodists before being bought in 1885 by Orthodox Jews from Eastern Europe, who called their synagogue Beth Hamedrash Hagadol — the Great House of Study. The building was declared a landmark by the city in 1967. But it fell into disrepair, was closed in 2007 and suffered a catastrophic fire in 2017. After public hearings, the landmarks commission approved the demolition of the ruined structure in 2019 due to hazardous conditions and extensive loss of historic fabric.


Credit…Municipal Archives, City of New York
Credit…Village Society for Historic Preservation

Built as the Van Tassel & Kearney horse auction mart in 1903, and believed to be the last surviving building of its type in New York City, No. 128 East 13th Street is a grand Beaux-Arts barn with a curving roofline and a red-brick facade enlivened by ornamental flourishes.

The artist Frank Stella used the building as a studio from 1976 to 2006, at which point Village Preservation, an advocacy group, unearthed plans to bulldoze the structure for a condominium. The group waged a successful campaign to save the building, and in 2012 the city designated it a landmark.

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