Strand bookstore granted New York City landmark status over owner's objections

GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- New York City on Tuesday granted landmark status to an iconic bookstore -- a designation the owner adamantly said she did not want.

Nancy Bass Wyden, whose family has owned The Strand in Greenwich Village for 92 years, argued landmark status would require extra renovation and maintenance costs that could drive her out of business.

"Although this is not the outcome we hoped for, we'll continue to serve our customers as we have done robustly for 92 years," the business posted on Twitter.

Bass Wyden had pleaded to be left alone and unencumbered by the landmark status she said the building did not need, previously arguing it would be "like a noose."

"The Landmarks Preservation Commission recognizes that the Strand Bookstore is internationally beloved and it contributes to the building's significance," the agency said in a statement. "LPC is confident that its flexible and efficient regulatory process will enable the Strand to remain nimble and adapt to a changing retail climate, and thereby continue its important place in New York City."

Bass Wyden said an effort to "save" her building would kill the very store that has made it a then-unofficial iconic landmark, citing bureaucracy, red tape and costs she says come with making any change inside or outside the building in an industry that operates on "very small margins."

The store has been in the present location of East 12th Street and Broadway for more than 60 years, in a building Bass Wyden's father bought in 1996.

The attorney for the Strand is calling for a grassroots campaign and will seek action through the courts to reverse the landmark decision.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated six additional historic buildings on Broadway south of Union Square as individual landmarks.

"Each of these seven buildings has strong architectural and historical significance and together they reflect the history and importance of Broadway's development south of Union Square," Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll said. "They tell the history of the area, from its industrial past with the garment industry and labor rights movement to its cultural significance with the film industry and the internationally beloved Strand Bookstore."

Built between 1876 and 1902, the seven buildings were designed by notable New York City architects as the area south of Union Square was experiencing rapid commercial development.

They include prominent corner buildings that anchor this section of Broadway between NoHo and Union Square, and an intact and handsome block-front that reflects the late-19th century development of the avenue and broader area. They are architecturally significant examples of their style and type.

Here are the details of the seven buildings, from the Landmark Commission:

--817 Broadway is an architecturally significant 14-story Renaissance Revival-style store-and-loft building designed by the prominent American architect George B. Post in 1895-98 that represents the commercial development that transformed Broadway south of Union Square. For much of the early 20th century, tenants were clothing and textile manufacturers, including the Meyer Jonasson Building, one of the largest manufacturers of ladies garments. Today, this well-preserved building is being converted to office and retail space.

--826 Broadway, now the Strand Building, is an architecturally significant 11-story store Renaissance Revival-style and loft building designed by William H. Birkmire in 1902. Its steel skeleton-frame construction exemplifies the stylistic character and technological advances in skyscraper architecture at the time it was built. It is culturally significant as the home of the internationally-known Strand Bookstore for more than 60 years and historic association with the garment industry in the early 20th century. The Strand moved to the building from Fourth Avenue's book row in 1956 becoming a center of literary life in Lower Manhattan, and continues today at this active corner. The building contained several garment businesses, including a variety of women's shirtwaist, cloak, and dress factories; men's suit-makers and children's clothing manufacturers.

--830 Broadway is an architecturally significant 11-story Renaissance Revival- style store-and-loft building designed in 1897 by Cleverdon & Putzel in 1898 that represents the commercial development that transformed Broadway south of Union Square. The building housed a variety of small manufacturing and wholesale businesses, largely associated with the garment industry, through the mid-20th century. It was converted to a residential building in the 1980s.

--832 Broadway is an architecturally significant 10-story Renaissance Revival style store and loft building designed in 1896 by Ralph S. Townsend that represents the commercial development that transformed Broadway south of Union Square. In the early 20th century, it contained a variety of garment manufacturing and wholesale businesses, and in the second half of the 20th century was home to several publishing companies, including the Worker's Library Publishing House, later referred to as the New Century Publishers. It was converted to a residential building with a commercial ground floor in the 1980s.

--836 Broadway is an architecturally significant six-story store and loft building designed by Stephen Decatur Hatch in 1876. The building is notable for its stately cast-iron facades with delicate neo-Grec details and Renaissance-inspired mansard roof. By the early 1900s, it was occupied by garment factories, some of which were picketed during the historic New York City shirtwaist strike of 1909-1910. It continues to function as a commercial building today.

--840 Broadway is an architecturally significant 12-story Renaissance Revival style store-and-loft building designed by the noted architect Robert Maynicke that represents the commercial development that transformed Broadway south of Union Square. The building housed small clothing manufacturing and wholesale businesses, through the mid-20th century, including the Thompson Company, Lester & Company, and Goodyear Waterproof Company, manufacturers of raincoats and related apparel. The building was converted to a mixed-use cooperative in the 1970s.

--841 Broadway, known the Roosevelt Building, is an architecturally significant eight-story Romanesque Revival/Renaissance Revival-style store and loft building designed by Stephen D. Hatch 1894 for James A. Roosevelt and Robert Barnwell Roosevelt. It is also historically significant for housing garment manufacturers, such as Hackett, Carhart & Company and the Biograph Company, one of the first American film studios that advanced filmmaking technology and launched the careers of notable early filmmakers and silent-screen stars.

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