LESPI's Letter re Landmarking 345 E 4th Street

December 9, 2019

Alysha Lewis-Coleman, Chair
Manhattan Community Board No. 3
59 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003

Re: Proposed Landmarking of San Isidoro y San Leandro, 345 East 4th Street

Dear Chair Lewis-Coleman:

Lower East Side Preservation Initiative - LESPI - respectively requests Community Board No. 3’s support for Individual Landmark designation for San Isidoro y San Leandro Western Orthodox Catholic Church, at 345 East 4th Street in the East Village / Lower East Side.

This building presents a fascinating slice of Lower East Side history: for its distinctive and expressive Gothic Revival architecture; its “tenement church” size and configuration, which conform to the restricted dimensions of a standard New York City lot; and the variety of congregations housed in the building, which changed with the community’s changing ethnicities and immigration patterns.

Designed by Edward Wenz and built in 1891-92, the church remains remarkably intact from its original construction. Its pointed arch window openings, rose window, roof pediment, and steeple exhibit a bold vernacular style that sets it apart from similar secular buildings of the time. This bold character is still obvious on the streetscape today.

Constructed as the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary for the local Slovak and Hungarian community, the building’s “tenement church” size and configuration presumably reflect the modest resources available to the congregation at that time. The structure was later purchased by the Russian Orthodox Church and, more recently, has housed San Isidoro y San Leandro Western Orthodox Catholic Church of the Hispanic Mozarabic Rite. Once common in the East Village / Lower East Side and now increasingly rare, “tenement churches” and “tenement synagogues” document historic rites of passage for immigrants coming into this country.

We believe that this building is an important marker of how immigrant communities have entered the country and carved out places of worship, often in modest but architecturally expressive settings. It tells a story that still resonates today. We therefore ask you to support NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Individual Landmark designation for San Isidoro y San Leandro Western Orthodox Catholic Church of the Hispanic Mozarabic Rite. Thank you.

Sincerely

Richard D. Moses
President

Cc: Hon. Carlina Rivera, NY City Council
Linda Jones, Community Board 3

 

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving the historic streetscapes and buildings of the Lower East Side, including the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston Street, Bowery, Chinatown and Little Italy