Preservationists Push LPC to Landmark ‘Eastern Dispensary’ Building at 75 Essex
Elie reports for Bowery Boogie. Fueled by two notable landmarking victories in recent months – Bialystoker Nursing Home and 339 Grand Street – the Friends of the Lower East Side are retraining the crosshairs on another one-of-a-kind building. One we’ve covered at length – 75 Essex Street. As revealed here last month, 75 Essex is back on the market for $21 million. With the new Essex Crossing development soon to redefine SPURA, no abutting property is safe from destruction and/or alteration. Not even one as historically rich as this. Hence, the action. The Friends sent a “Request for Evaluation” to the Landmarks Preservation Commission last January, which was acknowledged by the city three months later. Due to the crickets from that end, the grassroots organization is turning up the heat by imploring folks to submit letters to Chairman Robert Tierney. “Due to the endangered status of this important building in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, Friends of the Lower East Side has embarked on a campaign to save the Good Samaritan/Eastern District Dispensary building,” said Mitchell Grubler, a founding member of the grassroots organization founded in 2011 and dedicated to preserving the architectural and cultural heritage of this historic center of immigrant life. The freestanding 75 Essex was erected in 1890 to house the Eastern Dispensary (aka Good Samaritan Dispensary), established in 1832 to provide the sick and poor with a place to receive aide and medicine. It initially opened on Grand Street during a massive cholera epidemic “that claimed the lives of more than 3,500 people, mainly destitute Irish immigrants crammed into filthy hovels in the fourth and sixth slum wards of downtown Manhattan.” Today, it’s owned by the family behind ground-level occupant Eisner Brothers, a business that will likely fold once the address is in new hands. An excerpt from their letter to Chairman Tierney:
As stated in our Request for Evaluation, submitted on January 14, 2013, the building is surrounded by Site 1 of the Essex Crossing/Seward Park Mixed-Use Development (see attachment for text and photos). While the building is not on the site, it is vulnerable to damage by work conducted around it or it could be diminished by inappropriate development surrounding it. The dispensary is eligible for the National Register and is noted in the Environmental Impact Statement for the development. Rose & Stone designed Eastern District Dispensary in the style of a freestanding Italianate palazzo. The four-story building is clad in orange brick on the first story and tan brick above, laid in Flemish bond. A rhythmic series of five round-arched openings are set within the first story of the eastern façade along Essex Street. Projecting belt courses, giving the effect of rustication, radiate from the central entrance and four flanking windows. Under the belt courses, now coated with cementitious parging and painted reddish brown, is brownstone of a similar color. Above the arches is a row of nine vertical sash windows, surrounded by moulded brick, repeated at the third story, and nine arched windows at the fourth story.