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Home : Preservation : 128 East 13th Street : Latest News : 05/15/12

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After Six Year Campaign, 128 E. 13th Street is Landmarked — former stable housed artist Frank Stella, Rosie the Riveter, and Vanderbilt Ponies
Rosie The Riveter Campaign

Former Van Tassel and Kearney Horse Auction Mart/Frank Stella Studio, at 128 East 13th Street (center); GVSHP "Rosie the Riveter" T-Shirts and Stickers in support of saving 128 E. 13th (l. and r.), referencing the buildings role as a World War II Assembly-line training center for women.


We are pleased to report that after a six-year campaign led by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) today voted unanimously to landmark 128 East 13th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues (more info on building HERE).  The building is believed to be the city’s last surviving horse auction mart building, served as the studio of artist Frank Stella, and during World War II was an assembly-line training center for women.  The structure was designed in 1903 and by the firm of Jardine, Kent, and Jardine.

In 2006 GVSHP discovered plans by a new owner to tear down the building and replace it with a 7-story condo (more info HERE).  GVSHP immediately brought the plan to the attention of the LPC and requested an emergency hearing to save the building.  While it was well known that the building had served as the studio of highly-influential 20th century artist Frank Stella from 1978 to 2005, GVSHP provided the LPC with research showing it was originally built as the Van Tassel and Kearney Horse Auction mart, a place where the Vanderbilts and Delanos went to view horses paraded on a central ring in the middle of the grand central hall of this building to select them for purchase.  While horse auction marts were once common buildings in New York City, GVSHP’s research also indicated that this was the last such structure which survived intact.  GVSHP research also showed that the building was used during World War II as an assembly-line training center for women, thus leading to our use of the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” image for its “We Can SAVE It – Landmark 128 East 13th Street” campaign (see more HERE).

While the LPC held an emergency hearing in 2006 and prevented demolition of the building (read testimony HERE), they refrained from voting on designation for six years.  In 2007, the building was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places (read HERE).  GVSHP and other advocates, including City Councilmember Rosie Mendez (read HERE), continued to push for designation (read letter HERE).  Today’s vote immediately confers landmark status upon the building.

GVSHP is deeply gratified that the six-year effort to preserve this remarkable building has paid off.  How many structures can conjure up images of the Vanderbilts purchasing polo ponies, Frank Stella creating masterpieces of 20th century art, and Rosie the Riveter fighting the war on the home front?  The building’s progression from a place where horse were sold, then manufactured goods were produced, and then great works of art were created, captures the arc of downtown’s development perhaps better than any other single building.  Today’s landmark designation helps ensure that another critical piece of downtown’s history, which is constantly under great pressure, is preserved.

You can read more about the designation on the New York Times’ Local East Village HERE and in DNAinfo HERE.

Thank you to everyone who helped fight to save this wonderful historic structure.  To find out more about GVSHP’s other advocacy campaigns and how you can get involved, click HERE.  To support GVSHP’s preservation efforts, click HERE.

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Home : Preservation : 128 East 13th Street : Latest News : 05/15/12

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