Monday, May 11, 2009

Beyond Lintels

Please cut & paste & send the following to: (with a copy to: The subject line should read: Marx Brothers Place.

And please be sure to include your name & address at the bottom of the letter as LPC will unfortunately disregard any messages without this information. Thanks!

The Honorable Robert B. Tierney
Chairman, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chairman Tierney,

Thank you for touring historic East 93rd Street and agreeing to take a closer look at the 93rd Street Beautification Association's Request for Evaluation (RFE), asking the city to extend the Carnegie Hill Historic District one block east to include historic Marx Brothers Place. We hope the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission calendars this worthy request for a Public Hearing as soon as possible.

In the meantime, it has come to our attention that LPC is concerned that many years ago, the ornamentation was shaved from the three houses numbered 175, 177 & 179 East 93rd Street, rendering their facades flat. So we thought it was important to let you know that this collection of houses, all built in 1881, in fact, remains in tact. These three houses are the original 19th century structures and even retain their significant fenestration. The shaving of the ornamentation is purely cosmetic, can easily be restored and does not undermine the historic significance of these three 19th century houses.

And while there are many reasons these three 19th century houses should be included in the historic district along with the rest of the block, we would like to draw your attention to two particularly relevant and compelling facts about their historic significance: 1.) the roofs of these three 19th century houses form an unbroken stepped-down roofscape unique to this Carnegie Hill block and 2.) the historic significance of 179 is inarguable as it's the world-famous childhood home of the Marx Brothers, and represents a direct link to every member of the iconic comedy team and their extended family as their parents Minnie & Sam, and even the Marx Brothers beloved grandfather, all lived together on the fourth floor.

In his acclaimed memoir Harpo Speaks, the brother known for his silence wrote that 179 was the Marx Brothers' first 'home sweet home' and that the block, and this very special house, helped shape the world view and inform the development of the Marx Brothers who became the world's greatest comedy team.

It is imperative that the city act with all due speed to calendar this RFE and to protect this incomparable collection of historic homes & gardens so rich in our nation's cultural and architectural history. Thank you for your kind attention to this request.

Respectfully submitted,

(please add your name and address as LPC will disregard any messages without this information)