Two buildings in Manhattan are now official historic landmarks following designation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The Commissioners unanimously voted to designate The Educational Building at 70 Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village and the Holyrood Episcopal Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz at 715 West 179th Street in Washington Heights.
The LPC considers both buildings as architecturally, historically, and culturally significant to the diverse built-up environment of New York City.
“LPC is committed to ensuring diversity and inclusion in our designations,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Sarah Carroll. “As part of our equity framework launched earlier this year, we are prioritizing designations like 70 Fifth Avenue and Holyrood Episcopal Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz, to make sure that we are telling the stories of all New Yorkers.”
The 12-story educational building was originally completed in 1914 by architect Charles A. Rich in Beaux-Arts style. Located on the southwest corner of West 13th Street, the structure was initially occupied by Ginn & Company, whose co-founder George Arthur Plimpton developed the property. Upper levels of the building were occupied by a number of social reform organizations including the headquarters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The latter occupied the fifth floor from 1914 to 1923.
The L-shaped office building features a white brick and stone façade with much of the original ornamentation still intact. This includes door surrounds, pilasters, composite capitals, relief panels, keystones, rounded pediments, and the masonry cornice. The building was renovated in 2006 and is currently part of the Shelia C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design.
“Today’s vote recognizes the contributions the NAACP and other prominent civil rights organizations made at 70 Fifth Avenue,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I want to thank the Landmarks Preservation Commission for designating this historically significant building, which will now be protected for generations to come.”
Built between 1911 and 1916, Holyrood Episcopal Church is a Gothic Revival-style structure designed by the architectural firm of Bannister & Schell. The building is constructed of rough-faced stone with decorative terra cotta details and a prominent arched stained glass window at the front. The church has adapted to serve a largely Latino community from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and other Spanish-speaking countries. In response to the area’s blossoming Dominican population, the church provides facilities for the Dominican Women’s Development Center, an independent nonprofit that advances gender equality, social justice, and education.
To better reflect its role in the surrounding community, the church changed its historic name to add a Spanish translation in 2012. The church is now colloquially known as the Holyrood Church–Iglesia Santa Cruz.
“For over 125 years Holyrood Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz has been the heart and soul of Washington Heights,” said Father Barrios of Holyrood Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz. “We believe that the beauty of being a landmark is defined not only by the beauty of its physical structure but also by its ability to allow the community to have access to enjoy this space as a zone of liberation to reaffirm and accompany them in their daily struggles. Hence, we are proud to move our church into this new phase of interconnectedness and interdependence with the community.”