Harlem’s historic architecture was the focus of an April 20 Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing. The Conservancy was pleased to join with local advocates, neighbors, and elected officials to speak in support of designating the Dorrance Brooks Square Historic District and the Harlem Branch of the New York Public Library at 9 West 124th Street.
Dorrance Brooks Square would be the second historic district designation in Harlem in the past several years. The District contains numerous blocks of charming row houses along West 136th to West 140th Streets. The Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival, and Romanesque Revival houses date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They are largely intact and feature elegant decorative details. Historic religious properties and larger residential and institutional buildings on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and Edgecombe Avenues complement these rows. They were the homes and studios of individuals connected to the Harlem Renaissance, including W.E.B. DuBois and Ethel Waters.
The elegant Library is one of 12 Carnegie Libraries in New York that McKim, Mead and White designed. This low-scale, Classical Revival-style building has been a center of Harlem cultural life for decades and continues to play an important role in the community. With a prominent location facing Marcus Garvey Park, it is a neighborhood landmark that should receive this formal recognition.
The vast majority of speakers at the hearing supported these designations. LPC Chair Sarah Carroll did not announce a specific date, but said that the Commission vote will take place very soon.