Volume 18 • Issue 7 | July 8-14, 2005

After 38 years, Landmarks decides to designate Federal Style building

By Albert Amateau

An 1811 Federal Style building, located near the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel entrance five blocks from ground zero, won the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s unanimous approval on June 28 as a designated landmark.

Preservation advocates hailed the designation that protects the building at 67 Greenwich St. from demolition.

“We’re thrilled,” said Peg Breen, president of the Landmarks Conservancy, a private preservation group that has long urged landmark protection for vulnerable Federal Style buildings in Lower Manhattan. “We think this is a very important building, one of the last of its era in the neighborhood.”

Built as a fashionable residence, the building’s use changed with the neighborhood over the years but it has been long underused and has been vacant since the World Trade Center attack nearly four years ago. Harry Schessel, whose family has long owned 67 Greenwich St., opposed the designation. The owner, however, has done shoring and bracing work to stabilize the building, according to Roger Lang, who works for Breen’s organization.

“The building is not much to look at now, but it could be beautiful if restored and put to a new use,” said Breen.

The designation was among four that the L.P.C. made on Tuesday. “One of the reasons the Landmarks Commission was created was to protect rare gems like this,” said Robert Tierney, the commission’s chairperson, in a statement referring to the Greenwich St. building.

Ken Lustbader, a member of the Lower Manhattan Emergency Preservation Fund, noted that 67 Greenwich St. first appeared on the L.P.C. calendar 38 years ago a few years after the commission was created. Lustbader said his group is also calling for landmark designation for three other Federal Style buildings at 94, 94 1/2 and 96 Greenwich St., a block and a half north of the new landmark.

Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, lauded the designation as an important step in the protection of the other Federal Style buildings Downtown.

Known as the Robert Dickey House for the merchant who owned and lived in it until 1821, 67 Greenwich St. is unusually wide, — 41 ft. — and was originally three and a half stories with a high peaked roof. The back of the building has an elliptical bay, visible from Trinity Pl., that is more characteristic of Boston houses of the early 19th century.

Sometime after 1858, the original peaked roof was removed and converted into a full fourth floor.

The site is at the corner of Edgar St. across from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel parking garage. When the tunnel, which opened to traffic in 1950, was under construction, most of the neighboring houses on Greenwich St. were demolished.

Albert@DowntownExpress.com

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