The Indestructible Townhouse – The New York Instances

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The Indestructible Townhouse - The New York Times

When it comes to architectural survivors in the midst of Manhattan's perpetual migration and redevelopment, it's hard to beat the 211-year-old, four-story brick landmark at 67 Greenwich Street in the financial district. Originally the town house of merchant Robert Dickey, the decorative federal-style residence was built near the southern tip of the island in 1810, when nearby wharves full of commerce and lower Greenwich Street were some of the city's poshest addresses.

In the two centuries since Lower Manhattan was defined not by forests of ship masts but by forests of skyscrapers, the house has endured amazing upheavals. Some of the disruptions it survived include a neighborhood fire, a road widening project that claimed the back stall, the building and deconstruction of elevated railways that go past both the front and back doors, and that Digging subway tunnels on either side of the foundation, widespread destruction of neighboring houses after the Revolutionary War for the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and finally September 11 a few blocks north.

Now the façades on Greenwich Street and Trinity Place of the long-deteriorating house have been beautifully restored by its owner Trinity Place Holdings, the real estate company that emerged from the bankruptcy of discount clothing chain Syms in 2011. The completely remodeled interior of Dickey House will be part of a new home for Public School 150, which will also occupy most of the lower eight floors of a new 42-story condominium next door at 77 Greenwich Street that previously housed a bunker-like sym- Store found got up.

The glass tower, designed by FXCollaborative and opening this summer, rises from a cast stone base and is cantilevered in stages over the historic building, with its protrusions rising from two feet on the 11th floor to ten feet on the 32nd floor.

The north wall of the Dickey House, on which original handcrafted posts and beams as well as horsehair trim may have been preserved, was sacrificed to the project. New concrete floor slabs run continuously between the two buildings and seamlessly connect with the lower floors of the school, which is scheduled to open in September 2022.

The City Landmarks Commission approved the tower's booms and house work, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy will recognize the house's restoration at next month's annual Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards.

Lower Greenwich Street – planned as a road outside the city towards the village of the same name – is the legacy of a young and ambitious republic. After the Hudson River coastline, the road was built on a landfill in the 1790s, less than 15 years after the seven-year occupation of the city by British forces ended in 1783 and enjoyed promenading – lower Greenwich soon became home to upscale homes in federal style, which was named Millionaires Row for the houses near the park on the west side of the street.

Shipowner John Aspinwall Jr., a great-grandfather of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, lived at 58 Greenwich. DeWitt Clinton, the city's mayor and later the governor of New York State, lived at number 84. Bishop John Henry Hobart, the rector of nearby Trinity Church, called number 46 his home.

The city's elite "populated the top of Manhattan, built their beautiful residences," and "mixed in with business and social life," wrote historian-curator Gardner Osborn in 1940. Some merchants might even "look out the windows and enjoy" the thrill to see one of their own ships in the bay laden with silk from China ”or“ spices and tea from East India ”.

Dickey, who traded in coffee and spices, was one of the richest men in town. In 1809 he began building two brick houses numbered 65 and 67 in Greenwich. Behind them, separated by gardens, he added a carriage house, two stables and a warehouse overlooking Lumber Street (now Trinity Place).

Dicky's family lived in what is now 67, a wide three-and-a-half story house with a steep roof that may have been pierced by dormer windows. The Flemish brick house was adorned on both facades with splayed lintels and fluted keystones, which the family house of the well-known diary writer George Templeton Strong in 108 Greenwich had in common.

The federal style in America arose from the Georgian tradition of England, with modifications to include a preference for round and oval spaces. Accordingly, maps and a stereographic photo show that both Dickey houses received fashionable, elliptically curved rear facades. No. 67 is one of only two remaining federal-style townhouses in Manhattan with a curved facade and the only such facade three bays wide.

The loss of a ship damaged Dickey's finances, according to the Landmark Commission, and in 1821 he sold his two houses on Greenwich Street. Soon after, No. 67 was acquired by the ship chandler Peter Schermerhorn, whose old Knickerbocker family had built the counting houses at 2-18 Fulton Street in what is now the South Street Seaport Historic District.

Lower Greenwich Street remained in fashion from the 1820s through the early 1840s. During this time, the Schermerhorns rented number 67 to a parade of company figures, including William Bayard Jr., the director of Bank of America. In 1830 the house became the French consulate for a year.

A fire started east of Lower Broadway in 1845 and spread to a saltpetre warehouse on Broad Street, which exploded with a force noticeable in Brooklyn. On Lower Greenwich, the diary writer Strong saw from his parents' window half a mile southeast, “a broad column of intense flames that made the moon look pale and covered everything with a glow and glare that passed every artificial light effect I have ever seen had seen. "

As the fire hit the west side of Broadway, Strong reported, "Everyone on Greenwich Street and Washington Street fled to the Principal in a" rush. " But even though the fire destroyed 300 buildings, it stopped 350 feet from 67 Greenwich as a precautionary measure.

By 1850, fashionable society had largely moved upwards. Most of the houses on Greenwich had been converted into boarding houses, some with shops or salons. Bank directors had been replaced as tenants by shoemakers, stevedores and employees.

The neighborhood redesign was embodied in the changed use of Castle Garden, a theater on the Battery that opened in the 1820s with high ticket prices keeping the Riffraff generally away. But in 1855 Castle Garden became a teeming immigrant processing center.

Trinity Place was expanded for an elevated railway in the 1860s and 67 outbuildings were cut away from Greenwich. And in 1871, the Times reported, police raided 18 “low basement brothels” in Greenwich, including No. 67. Men, women and girls “of the most humiliated and homely kind” were arrested.

No. 67 was modified the next year by the German-born architect Detlef Lienau, who had sparked mansard madness in the city with his 1852 French Second Reich design for the Shiff mansion on Fifth Avenue and 10th Street. His Greenwich Street remodeling was less demanding and suited a building that is now classified as a tenement. He created a full fourth floor by raising the roof pitch and extending the curved rear facade upward. He also added a clipped stone hood over the front entrance.

In the 1890s, Lower Greenwich was part of an emerging Syrian community, and in 1922 a facade was added to the No. 67 rear facade. Businesses that have operated in the building since then include a cigar shop, coffee shop, men's clothing store, bricklayer's shop, and a hardware store.

Most of the federal-style homes in Lower Greenwich were opened to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel exit and the Battery Parking Garage around 1940. But in the same way that the Great Fire of 1845 stopped just before number 67, the scythe of the tunnel project stopped south of the building.

Syms Corporation bought the house in 2008 for $ 8 million. Although south wall # 67 along Edgar Street was completely replaced in 2013, the long vacant structure remained "halfway between a building and a ruin," said Dan Kaplan, senior partner at FXCollaborative. "You felt like you were in a noir movie with light streaming through it."

The fragile shell of the house was temporarily stabilized by the installation of a 150-tonne spider web made of structural steel that supported the east, west and south walls. The house was gutted and new reinforced concrete floors were poured at new heights to match the lower three floors of the adjoining tower. What had been a four-story house became three stories, with the top story of the Dickey house left open to the sky as a rooftop play area. As soon as the new concrete floor structures and pillars were in place to brace the original brick shell, the steel spider web was cut away with soldering torches.

The 1922 Trinity Place storefront, which housed a derelict bar-restaurant, has been removed. The east and west facades were restored to their apartment building, with about 80 percent of the original masonry remaining in Greenwich and 95 percent on Trinity Place. A third of the falling rocks on Trinity have been replaced with cast stone. The damaged stone brackets and the gable at the entrance to Greenwich were rebuilt in galvanized steel.

Some will likely welcome the building's adaptive reuse, while others denounce the project as an act of “facadism” that saved only two historic walls and nothing in between. For pedestrians, the restored street front of 67 Greenwich is the most impressive remaining touchstone of a thoroughfare that was once lined with elegantly low-key houses in the English Georgian tradition.

Just a block away, the only other vestiges of Lower Greenwich's glory days are a row of three badly disfigured federal-era townhouses. Number 94 Greenwich's side wall on Rector Street bears the scarred outline of its long-lost gambrel roof under the newer building on the fourth floor, while street level is a modern glass and steel shop window. Next door there is no visible historical fabric in the building of Cafe De NoVo. And number 96 has a shabby attached roof terrace and a colorful entrance with gold and mirrors, appropriate clothing, perhaps for the long-standing home of the former Pussycat Lounge Strip Club.

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