National Historic Landmark Cuts Ribbon on Restoration Project Assisted by Conservancy
The Landmarks Conservancy participated in ribbon-cutting ceremonies last week celebrating the restoration of the New York Studio School’s distinctive pink stucco façade on West 8th Street. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney assembled the mid-19th century buildings that make up the School from 1907 to 1930, using one as her personal studio. The buildings served as the original home of the Whitney Museum from 1931-54.
The Studio School purchased the buildings in 1964. The Conservancy became involved with the School in 2009 when it received a $250,000 state matching grant for the exterior restoration. We gave the School a low-interest loan to make the match and added a $10,000 grant.
When the original architect became seriously ill, we referred the School to Jonathan Raible, who completed the restoration to landmark standards. The Studio School is a National Historic Landmark and within the Greenwich Village Historic District.
Even with funds in hand, the School initially found the project daunting. Conservancy staff Karen Ansis and Jim Mahoney worked with the School, architect, and contractor to refine the project so that it was affordable and would run as smoothly as possible. Karen and Jim continued to collaborate throughout the entire two- year restoration, helping to solve issues as they arose and ensuring that all parties were informed and comfortable.
At the September 24 ceremony, Board President Anthony Zunino singled out Karen and Jim for praise saying, “We could never have done this without you.”
Even with the work completed, Jim continues to file paperwork with the State on behalf of the School to draw down the remaining grant funds.
Conservancy President Peg Breen outlined the Conservancy’s involvement at the ceremony and stated: “Our work at the Studio School illustrates the lengths Conservancy staff will go to ensure that restoration projects have happy endings.”
Work on the New York Studio School was completed at the end of 2014 by general contractor, Titan Restoration. Kaitsen Woo and then Jonathan Raible were the architects. The school complex is a National Historic Landmark and included in the Greenwich Village Historic District of New York City.
The Conservancy provided pro bono project and grant management assistance as well as a loan and grant towards the work, which included the restoration of the stucco on three of the four buildings, masonry work on the fourth building, the repair of the frieze and cornice, and other work.
In 2009, the school was awarded a matching grant of $250,000 from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund. The school then sought a loan from the Conservancy’s Historic Properties Fund, to meet the matching requirement of the State grant. The Fund authorized a $250,000 loan along with a $10,000 grant to meet and exceed the matching requirement. A change in architects as a result of illness occurred, and Jonathan Raible was able to take over officially as the project architect in 2013. The project went out to a pubic bid in the fall of 2013, Titan was selected in early 2104, and work began in the spring of 2014.
New York Studio School – also known as the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture, Inc. – was founded in 1964 by a group of students studying under painter and educator Mercedes Matter as an alternative learning environment for the professional training and development of young painters and sculptors with emphasis on daily studio work. The school began in a loft on Broadway, but in its second year was able to purchase the buildings of the original Whitney Museum of American Art at 8–14 West 8th Street in Greenwich Village. The cost of the property was underwritten by the generosity of one of the school’s first students, Claudia Stone, who died suddenly and bequeathed the School half of her estate.
Built as residential dwellings in 1838, these four adjoining Greek revival row houses contained the studios of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney during the early part of the 20th century. 8-12 West 8th Street underwent an extensive remodeling in 1931 by architect August L. Noel for Mrs. Whitney when the buildings became the first home of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The museum remained at this site until moving to West 54th Street in 1954. In the remodeling, three of the original brick building facades were united with a single façade of salmon-pink stucco, set off by lintels, band courses, and moldings of white stone. The new exterior had a streamlined design, suggesting the Art Moderne style popular in the 1930s.