On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the 16th site from its former 95-item backlog of items from before 2010. The former Williamsburgh Trust Company Building at 177 South 5th Street, in Williamsburg, has now been designated a landmark. Additionally, two more Brooklyn structures are now on the path to designation.
Now the Ukrainian Church in Exile/Holy Trinity Cathedral, and also occupying 177-185 South 5th Street, the building is located at the corner with South 5th Place. It was designed by the firm of Helmle, Huberty & Hudswell and built in 1906.
It had sat on the commission’s calendar since 1966. On February 23, it was one of the 30 sites prioritized for designation by the end of the year.
The church itself was opposed to the designation, which is often the case with religious institutions. They argued it would be a financial hardship and that the building didn’t merit designation. LPC staff determined that there was not a compelling case against designation.
LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said the commission will work to help the church mitigate the costs of maintaining a landmark structure.
Commissioner Michael Goldblum said he wished the city could do more to help the owners of buildings like this reap the benefits of their air rights.
Srinivasan added that when she first moved to New York and crossed the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn, this was one of the buildings that really caught her eye. She called it “amazing” and said she assumed it already was a landmark.
The commission’s vote to designate was unanimous. With this 16th designation, there are now 13 properties remaining from the 30 prioritized in February. If that math is confusing, it’s because when the Park Slope Historic District Extension II was designated in April, that covered St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church and Rectory at 49 Sterling Place. So, that item was removed from the calendar.
Before the designation vote was held for this building, two more Brooklyn sites were placed on the commission’s calendar. They both sit on what is known as “Bank Row,” between the Brooklyn Heights Historic District (the city’s first historic district) and Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District (designated in 2011).
The first is the Neo classical former People’s Trust Company Building at 181 Montague Street. It was designed by the firm of Mowbray & Uffinger and, according to LPC staff, capitvated the press when it was built between 1903 and 1906. Its four 28-ton columns each came from the same piece of marble. The structure is now a Citibank and the calendared area does not cover an addition constructed in 1929.
The second is the first’s next-door neighbor at 185 Montague Street. It is the 16-story, Art Deco former National Title Guaranty Company Building. It was designed by the firm of Corbett, Harrison, & MacMurray and features a decorative screen by Rene Chambellan. It was built between 1929 and 1930, only half a decade after the company’s founding and half a decade before its liquidation.
Srinivasan said both are deserving of the commission’s consideration and the context of their position in between historic districts is important. A public hearing on their designations should be held in the next several months.