On Wednesday the federal government voted to approve GVSHP’s nomination of Westbeth, the groundbreaking artists housing complex in the Far West Village, for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This follows the approval of our nomination of Westbeth for the NY State Register of Historic Places on October 22nd. The listing recognizes the importance of the conversion of the former Bell Telephone Labs to artists housing in 1965-1970. Because this happened less than 50 years ago, the conversion had to be found to be of “extraordinary significance” to qualify for listing. Westbeth was the first large-scale adaptive re-use of an industrial building for residential use, and the first subsidized housing for artists in the United States.
Aside from acknowledging Westbeth’s extreme importance to the history of the State and Country, the listing potentially qualifies Westbeth for grants and loans for restoration and maintenance work.
Earlier this year GVSHP submitted our State and National Register nomination of Westbeth to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, which had promised to consider Westbeth for landmark designation in 2004 but had never moved ahead with the promised action. Following this submission, on October 20th, the LPC finally voted to ‘calendar’ Westbeth for consideration as a New York City landmark. We expect a hearing to be scheduled early in the new year.
GVSHP’s three-year research and nomination process, funded by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, documented how the groundbreaking conversion came to be. Research included interviews with several of the most important figures involved in the project such as Richard Meier and Merce Cunningham, who died earlier this year.
Read GVSHP's nomination of Westbeth for the State and National Register of Historic Places, documenting its history, HERE.
Read or listen to GVSHP’s interviews with key figures in the creation of Westbeth, including Richard Meier and Merce Cunningham, HERE.
CLICK HERE for additional information about Westbeth.
Westbeth photo courtesy of Barry Munger.