By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
EAST VILLAGE — The former Manhattan home of legendary musician Charlie Parker recently underwent renovations to jazz up the historic brownstone where the saxophonist lived and produced his most influential work.
The four-story property on Avenue B near East 10th Street was home to Parker and his family from 1950 to 1954, and was recognized as a state and city landmark in the 1990s.
The owner recently moved forward with a restoration of the rowhouse that included refurbishing the façade and repainting the exterior to reflect the look of the building when it was built in 1849.
“It’s always good to see when an owner is willing to put time and effort into restoring a landmark property, especially one as historically significant as this one,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
The Gothic Revival-style building is owned by Judy Rhodes, who purchased the property in 1979 and runs a Web site devoted to the residence. She was instrumental in getting it recognized as a landmark, something owners may try to avoid because of the restrictions it places on future construction options.
“People know about this building from all over the world,” said Rhodes, who lives in the ground-floor apartment once occupied by Parker.
The owner's decision to restore the building to its original look, which is not required under city landmarks law, came as somewhat of a surprise to preservationist Berman.
“It’s great when somebody goes the extra mile to restore a building,” he said. “Owners have an obligation under the landmarks law to maintain it, but they don’t always go further by restoring or bringing back lost features.”
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission approved of Rhodes's requested changes, including chipping off the façade’s white paint, refinishing the surface and repainting the exterior brown to match its original appearance.
“Landmarking my building is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done,” Rhodes added, explaining that people stop by on a daily basis to photograph the brownstone, which boasts a plaque honoring the jazzman's time there.
Berman hopes that other properties in the neighborhood that once housed bold-faced names like Parker will also benefit from the same treatment.
“The East Village is chock full of houses and apartment buildings that cultural luminaries lived in and did great work in,” he said. “There should be many more Charlie Parker houses in the East Village.”