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Union Square Group Pushes for Landmark Status for Former Carriage House

 Preservationists want the city to designate the former carriage house at 121 E. 17th St. as an historic landmark.
Preservationists want the city to designate the former carriage house at 121 E. 17th St. as an historic landmark.
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DNAinfo/Noah Hurowitz

UNION SQUARE — A former carriage house on East 17th Street should be made a landmark because its facade, distinctive windows and an intact service alley are historically significant to the neighborhood, a community group said.

The building at 121 E. 17th Street, between Irving Place and Park Avenue South, is a squat, two-story building with a large front-facing window that hints at its former use.

Built in 1854, it's a reminder of the old makeup of the neighborhood, according to Jack Taylor, a member of the Union Square Community Coalition which is pushing for the designation.

It sits across from a small 10-building historic district which protects the row houses along the south side of East 17th Street between Irving Place and Park Avenue South.

Because of its age and the minimal number of alterations made to the building over the years, it should be considered part of that historic streetscape, Taylor said.

The landmarks committee of Community Board 5 voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend the building, which now houses the restaurant The House, for landmark designation.

In addition to the large window in the former carriage entryway, the building has a pair of distinct circular windows on its front-facing facade as well as on the side of the building, which is visible to the street.

The building still has a service alley to its side, which is unusual as most former carriage houses in the city have been integrated into rows, according to Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council.

“Although the use of horse carriages has long since passed, this building has never succumbed to functional obsolescence,” Bankoff said in a letter supporting the building’s designation.

“This utilitarian structure has a refined composition, a testament to the wealth that funded it: Even the horses would have an attractive home to live in.”

Community Board 5 will vote on the recommendation at its full board meeting on March 10, after which the Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide if it will schedule a hearing on it.

No one was available at The House on Wednesday for comment on the potential landmark designation and the building’s owner could not immediately be reached for comment.