BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Six L.G.B.T. historically significant sites are up for possible landmarking, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson recently announced.
“As a preservationist, I have always believed that the cultural significance of a building is as important as its architectural significance,” Johnson said, in a statement on May 19.
The locations include the L.G.B.T. Community Center, at 208 W. 13th St.; as well as 99 Wooster St., previously home to the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse; 137 W. 71st St., James Baldwin’s former home; 31 Cornelia St., the site of the former Caffe Cino; 243 W. 20th St., the erstwhile Women’s Liberation Center; and Audre Lorde’s home, 207 St. Paul’s Ave., on Staten Island.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission was created in 1965 in response to public outrage over the demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station two years earlier. Since then, the agency has designated landmarks based on architectural significance and historical merit.
A public hearing by the L.P.C. commissioners on whether to landmark the half-dozen sites will be held Tues., June 4. The commission will then vote on the sites at a later date.
The process caps a four-year campaign by Village Preservation (formerly Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation) to urge the agency to landmark the L.G.B.T. Community Center and former Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse.
V.P. has launched an online petition to rally support for the landmarking designations ahead of the June 4 hearing. And while the organization is glad these sites are being considered for landmark status, the group is also urging the city to formally landmark more historically significant L.G.B.T. sites, like Julius’ bar, at 150 W. 10th St.
“In a city as diverse and progressive as New York, it’s hard to believe that until 2015 we had no landmarks reflecting L.G.B.T. history, and up until now only had one — the Stonewall Inn,” says the preseration group’s online petition. “All the threads of the rich tapestry of our city’s history deserve to be recognized and preserved. On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which also occurred in Greenwich Village, we should be reflecting back upon that history of progress and honoring the people and places which made it possible.”