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Upper East Side Wood Framed Home Landmarked After 50 Years on Waiting List

By Shaye Weaver | December 14, 2016 5:04pm

YORKVILLE — A wooden clapboard house on East 85th Street has served as a reminder of the long-gone pastoral era in Yorkville will be preserved indefinitely.

The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission designated 412 E. 85th St., near First Avenue, as a landmark on Tuesday, almost 10 months after the agency prioritized it as part of its backlog initiative — an effort to purge a 95-building list of structures with pending consideration for landmark status for decades —  and 50 years after it's initial hearing.

"Landmarks do not always have to be great, impressive buildings, but can also be small, working‐class farmhouses that have stood the test of time,” said Elizabeth Fagan, Director of Preservation at the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts.

The wooden home in Yorkville was the only Upper East Side site in the LPC's backlog and has been awaiting consideration since 1966, when it was first heard by the commission.

Built around 1860 when Yorkville was mostly farmland by an unknown builder, the wooden home is one of only six pre-Civil War wood frame houses on the Upper East Side, according to the LPC.

Other wooden homes can be found at 160 E. 92nd St. and 120 E. 92nd St., both of which are individual landmarks, and 128 E. 93rd St., which is part of the Carnegie Hill Historic District. Gracie Mansion is also counted as a historic wood frame house.

The neighborhood was once a wealthy rural area and quickly became home to a community of German immigrants during the late 19th century, who came for jobs at the neighborhood's breweries, the 1834 construction of a railroad station at East 86th Street and Park Avenue, and at the Steinway Piano Company over in Astoria, the LPC states in its Statement of Significance.

This house was home for 50 years to John Herbst and his family, which ran a monument shop there. The house has had many owners and a number of changes throughout the years, but has always maintained its character.

Its current owners Catherine and Alfredo De Vido restored the house based on the earliest documentation of it, which "helped this building to remain an architectural gem in the neighborhood," the Friends said in a statement.

A call to the De Vido's home went unanswered on Wednesday.

“412 East 85th Street has been blessed with a thoughtful, professional owner and steward for the past many years who is proud of the home’s history, and we are thrilled that, at long last, its significance has been formally recognized by the Landmarks Preservation Commission," said Franny Eberhart, the organization's president.