HARLEM — More than 250 row houses and approximately 12 apartment buildings are now protected as part of the Mount Morris Park Historic District, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission ruled Tuesday morning.
The houses, located six blocks west of the existing Mount Morris Park Historic District in Central Harlem, were built by the same developers and display popular architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th century.
The decision came after a three-year push by the Mount Morris Community Improvement Association and Manhattan Community Board 10 to expand the existing historic area.
“This is great news, we are very excited," said Laurent Delly, former vice president of the Mount Morris Community Improvement Association, and a resident of the district. "We hope that in the future more of Harlem is preserved.”
The Mount Morris Park area attracted a large African American population, including numerous prominent black residents, during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, says Theresa Noonan, the commission's historic preservationist who testified at this morning's hearing. Some of the oldest buildings in this extension were built in 1870.
"The area today remains one of New York City’s most vibrant African American communities," said Noonan.
"I think the district and the extension speaks not only to Harlem’s rich architectural history but also to its extraordinary cultural and social history," said Meenakshi Srinivasan, the LPC's chairwoman. “I am proud to have advanced this district and we look forward to preserving and protecting all that it represents for future generations."
Buildings that are given landmark status by the LPC are deemed an important part of New York City's heritage. Any alterations, construction or demolition to the buildings must receive advance approval from the commission. The Mount Morris Park Historic District was first designated in 1971.
"Expanding the historic district is something that was in the community preservation plan back in 2012," said Daniel Parcerisas, chair of the community board's Landmarks Committee. "This is the first item that has been approved from the plan. It feels good."