Preservation Issues

Commission Designates Backlog Sites in Staten Island and Manhattan

-George William and Anna Curtis House, 234 Bard Avenue, Staten Island

-St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church Rectory 1331 Bay Street, Staten Island

-92 Harrison Street, Staten Island

-Prince's Bay Lighthouse Complex, 6204 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island

-315 Broadway, Manhattan

-St. Joseph of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, 401-403 West 125th Street, Manhattan

-St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, 121 East 117th Street, Manhattan

June 29, 2016

Seven buildings in Staten Island and Manhattan, that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) once nearly removed from its calendar, are now designated landmarks. The Commission voted unanimously to designate the following at a June 28 public meeting.

The buildings, which cover a wide swath of New York’s history, were on the backlog list that the LPC proposed to “de-calendar” in 2014. The Conservancy testified in support of all of them at special hearings last fall.

The George William and Anna Curtis House was a hub for abolitionist activity in the mid-19th century. Designed in the transitional Italianate-style with some Greek Revival elements, George William Curtis built the house in the late 1850s. Curtis was an avid abolitionist and proponent of social equality for women and Native Americans, along with African-Americans. With Curtis in residence, the house served as a gathering place for people in the arts, politics, and social reform movements. Curtis’s wife Anna Gould Shaw, also came from a prominent family: her father Francis was a well-known abolitionist and successful business man. Her brother, Robert Gould Shaw, led the 54th Massachusetts Regiment of the Union Army, which was the first African-American fighting unit, and subject of the movie, “Glory.”

The 1882 Rectory at St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church, harmonizes with the 1869-71 St. John’s Church, landmarked for over four decades. The two buildings feature the same rose-colored granite; on the picturesque Queen Anne-style rectory, it was used on the first story. The Rectory’s upper levels are frame construction which retain their original asymmetrical form, despite installation of (reversible) aluminum siding. The rectory has been well maintained by the parish, and appears virtually the same as in 1970’s photos.

92 Harrison Street dates from the 1830s, and was built by a local developer, Richard G. Smith, who lived nearby on Van Duzer Street. From the 1860s to the 1960s, at least two generations of the Haltermann family lived there, the progenitor being a German-born sea captain, Henry Halterman, who purchased the property when he was in his 20s. It is largely unaltered today, with intact features including gable end faces, a porch with square wooden columns, clapboards, shutters, and a tripartite fan-shaped window. The Greek Revival house, which is located in the proposed Harrison Street Historic District, is the anchor of its block.

The charming Prince’s Bay Lighthouse Complex on is composed of the 1864 lighthouse tower and 1868 Keeper’s House, both built in a rusticated brownstone, unusual for a lighthouse. Along the south shore of Staten Island, the lighthouse is on the borough’s highest point, 85 feet above the water. It was a beacon for ships traveling to and from New York until 1922, when it was deactivated. Now the complex sits within the Mount Loretto Unique Area, an open space and nature preserve administered by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

315 Broadway is an excellent example of the Italian Renaissance-inspired commercial palaces typical of lower Manhattan’s downtown wholesale textile and dry goods district in the 1850s through 1870s. These grand buildings sought to evoke the palazzos of Italian merchant princes. 315 Broadway was constructed on speculation by prominent Irish linen merchant and bank director Thomas Suffern in 1861. Situated near the seminal A.T. Stewart Department Store, this building and several of its neighbors that are already designated individual landmarks are survivors from an era when lower Broadway was a grand commercial thoroughfare.

According to historian and writer David Dunlap, the St. Joseph of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church which dates from 1860, is the oldest surviving Manhattan church north of 44th Street. Originally constructed for a growing West Side German population, St. Joseph’s, a simple red brick Italianate structure, has retained the character of a small country church. The church was enlarged at the rear in 1871, and altered in 1889 by the Herter Brothers, the German architects best known for Lower East Side tenements and the Eldridge Street synagogue, as well as Catholic churches in Philadelphia and Easton, Pennsylvania. This early vernacular church is particularly significant for its longevity and social history, as a rare surviving church from this period in Upper Manhattan.

St. Paul Roman Catholic Church is a late Romanesque Revival church designed by architects Neville & Bagge and built in 1907-1908. The architects are better known for their many residential designs throughout Manhattan; this is their only church. The stately building features handsomely carved limestone facades highlighted by two large bell towers, and elegant details such as double and triple arched windows framed with delicate, narrow limestone mullion-pilasters, themselves topped by intricate foliate capitals. The St. Paul’s parish has a long history in Harlem. It was founded in 1834, three years before this remote hamlet was accessible by railroad, and served the immediate, then-rural East Harlem neighborhood, as well as southern Westchester.