Extension to 1971 Historic District Enters Designation Process

Landmarks vowed to continue engagement with the community and property owners in advance of hearing on extension of the Mount Morris Park Historic District. On April 14, 2015, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to add the Mount Morris Park Historic District Extension, to its calendar, the first step in the formal designation process. The district lies between 118th and 123rd Streets, bounded by Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard.

The proposed new district comprises 276 properties, primarily rowhouses developed in the late 19th century, as well as twelve apartment buildings. The areas architecture and development history is consistent with that of the adjoining Mount Morris Park Historic District, designated in 1971, with the masonry rowhouses originally constructed as one-family dwellings for an affluent community settling in Harlem, following the northward extension of rapid transit. Second Empire, Neo-Grec, Queen Anne, and Romanesque Revival are some of the common architectural styles the proposed extension displays, with much of the buildings’ original ornamentation and detailing still intact. The area began attracting African-American residents in the 1920s and served as home to prominent black residents and as part of the cultural center of Harlem, and largely remains an African-American community today.

Before the presentation, Landmarks Executive Director Sarah Carroll addressed commissioners to state that Landmarks has had a “long-standing interest” in in expanding Landmarks’ protection in the area. Carroll stated that Manhattan Community Board 10 had created a preservation plan in 2012, which was refined through two public meetings between Landmarks and the community board. The agency has also been communicating with the Mount Morris Park Association and Council Member Inez Dickens on the issue. She said an information packet would be sent to all property owners in the proposed district in advance of a public hearing on designation. Carroll stated that the information packets had been revised and expanded, and would be sent to property owners earlier in the landmarking process than they had in the past.

Landmarks Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called the district extension’s appearance before the Commission “a long time coming,” and added that it was a “very natural extension” of the existing historic district. Commissioner Roberta Washington called the item “much anticipated,” and said the Commission should examine other areas and properties in Harlem.

No date has been scheduled for a hearing on the potential designation, though Srinivasan mentioned that she expected it to take place in the autumn.

LPC: Mount Morris Park Historic District Extension, Manhattan (LP-2571) (April 14, 2015).

By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law)

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