Preservation Issues

Struggle to Preserve Landmark House in Hamilton Heights


467 W. 140th Street - Hamilton Heights

April 13, 2012

CONSERVANCY WORKS WITH NEIGHBORS, COUNCILMAN AND LANDMARKS COMMISSION TO STOP DEMOLITION OF LANDMARK HARLEM HOUSE

The three-story brick and limestone house at 467 W.140th Street is the focus of a struggle to preserve the unified appearance of an intact Hamilton Heights block.

The abandoned house sits at the center of a well-maintained row of bow-fronted houses on the north side of West 140th Street across from the City College campus. It is within the Hamilton Heights Historic District. The interior was consumed by fire some years ago causing a collapse of a section of the roof. Department of Buildings (“DOB”) inspectors deemed the house hazardous and ordered an immediate demolition even though the front fa├žade was not affected by the collapse and is salvageable.

The Conservancy joined forces with the Landmarks Preservation Commission and a group of concerned neighbors in the hope of saving at least the front portion of the building. At an April 13 meeting hosted by City Councilman Robert Jackson the DOB and LPC heard from the neighborhood and the Conservancy. We asked for time to see what could be done to save the house. Miraculously, a neighbor who had just finished restoring another house on the same block, stepped up and offered to buy the house and provide the DOB with the stabilization and engineering report it requires.

A law firm currently is working to transfer title from a defunct non-profit organization that owns the house and abandoned it twenty years ago. The transfer is complicated by liens as well as by State rules governing the dissolution of non-profits.

The DOB has promised to stay the demolition order for the time being—hopefully until the property transfer is negotiated. The Conservancy is keeping close tabs on the transfer and future stabilization of the house.