Mount Morris Park Advocates Want to Expand Their Historic District
By Jon Schuppe
HARLEM — A group of Mount Morris Park residents wants the city's Landmark Preservation Commission to expand the boundaries of a historic district so it can protect more of the neighborhood's grand old townhouses.
The proposal is being pushed by the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association, which was scheduled to outline the plan at a meeting of Community Board 10's Landmarks Committee meeting Tuesday night.
The current boundaries, which roughly cover the streets between Marcus Garvey Park and Lenox Avenue, were set by the commission in 1973 when it set up one of New York’s first historic districts. But the association says there are many more properties to the west that deserve the same protections.
Their proposal would redraw the lines closer to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.
If approved, the new map would mirror the boundaries set by the U.S. Department of Interior when it placed the neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places. The national and city designations have slightly different rules regarding the restoration and renovation of existing buildings.
The original boundaries set by the Landmarks Preservation Commission "have left unprotected many buildings of the same character, scale, style and architects as those in the (historic) district," the association says in literature promoting the new boundaries.
The plan has been endorsed by the Historic Districts Council as a project that should be among the the landmarks commission's top priorities this year.
The Mount Morris Park Historic District is lined with townhouses built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, along with several churches, in the streets surrounding what was then called Mount Morris Park. Now Marcus Garvey Park, the open space has served as the centerpiece of the neighborhood's revival, but was the scene of a grisly murder recently. Many of the houses have been elegantly renovated, but some others are in disrepair.
Some homeowners have resisted the association’s proposal, saying they worried it would make it too difficult to make changes to their properties. Others have suggested that changing zoning laws would be more appropriate.
Tuesday’s hearing before CB10’s Landmarks Committee will be held in the 2nd Floor Art Gallery at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, 163 West 125 Street.