Two historic buildings in Greenwich Village, Washington Heights closer to landmark status

Photo via PropertyShark/Christopher Bride

The Landmarks Preservation Commission advanced proposals Tuesday to provide historical designation to the Holyrood Episcopal Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz in Washington Heights and the Educational Building in Greenwich Village.

Holyrood Episcopal Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz at 715 West 179th St. is a Gothic Revival style church designed by architectural firm Bannister & Schell. The church, built from 1911 to 1916,  has played an important role in the Latino community in Washington Heights in recent years. The sanctuary’s architectural and cultural significance, as well as rich history, contributes to the church’s mission to be a church of all peoples.

“Today, Holyrood Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz is remarkably intact, with excellent integrity of design and materials,” said Director of Research Kate Lemos McHale. “This outstanding example of a Gothic Revival church has served Washington Heights since its construction over one hundred years ago and continues to serve the diverse, predominantly Latino community, offering services and programs in Spanish as well as English.”

The church has remained an important resource within the community throughout the development of Washington Heights. The congregation has changed to reflect the area’s residents from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and other Spanish-speaking areas. The church added the Spanish translation to its name to recognize its role in the Latino community.

“The cultural significance of the Holyrood Episcopal Church- Iglesia Santa Cruz lies in this changing and enriching demographics,” said Diego Robayo, the Historic Districts Council’s Public Relations Specialist for Hispanic Communities. “By serving and welcoming newcomers since it was established in 1893, the congregation has greatly contributed to New York City’s multiculturalism.” 

After the church’s proposal, LPC Chair Sarah Carroll moved the public hearing to discuss The Educational Building at 70 Fifth Ave. in Greenwich Village, also known as 2-6 West 13th St.. 

The 12-story Beaux-Arts-style loft building was built by Charles A. Rich around 1914. The building was originally commissioned by book publisher and philanthropist George Arthur Plimpton for the educational book publisher Ginn & Company. 

The upper floors of the building were leased to many social reform organizations, including the NAACP, which had its national office there from 1914 to 1923. 

Community member Eve Kahn read a letter from Sarah Plimpton, George Plimpton’s granddaughter, during the hearing.

“This building is a true history lesson. Not only the architecture, but of its importance in civil rights, labor rights and even world affairs,” Plimpton wrote in her letter. “It was an education for me to read about 70 Fifth and it should be saved for others to learn as I did.”

The Educational Building was renovated in 2005 and is currently part of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at The New School’s Parsons School of Design. Very few changes have been made to the exterior of the building.

“We feel that the purpose of landmark designation is to preserve the historic nature and sense of place that a structure of neighborhood provides,” said Charlie Anderson, community liaison to Assembly Member Deborah Glick. “Seventy Fifth Avenue is an excellent example of the intersection of historic significance and the overall sense of place represented in a single building.”

The next step for the items, proposed without any opposition, is a public meeting during which the Commission will vote on the designations.

More from around NYC