December 20, 2015
Gigi Li, Chair
Community Board 3, Manhattan
59 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
re: Former Provident Loan Society Building
Dear Ms. Li:
I am writing to express Lower East Side Preservation Initiative’s – LESPI’s – support for designating the former Provident Loan Society building at 223 East Houston Street a NYC Individual Landmark.
The neo-Renaissance building, originally built in 1912 as one of many Provident Loan branches around the city, is a landmark in the truest sense of the world. Essentially intact from its original construction, its strong and elegant facade, with its beautifully restrained copper cornice and boldly pedimented windows, and prominence on the streetscape announce the structure’s important history and place within the community.
With the help of such renowned late 19th century tycoons as J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and August Belmont, the Provident Loan Society was incorporated as a not-for-profit in 1894 to help guard the needy against usurious pawnbrokers and loan sharks. The financial panic of 1893 had thrown the entire economy in disarray, and this institution, which survives to this day, was presumably an effort by the wealthiest to “give back” to their less fortunate fellow citizens as well as to help stabilize an ever-deteriorating economy. More recently the building served various uses, most importantly as home and studio for the trailblazing artist Jasper Johns.
Although we realize that this designation is being proposed after “the 11th hour”, we believe that the building’s merits clearly warrant the NYC Landmarks Commission taking quick and assertive action to landmark the building and thereby help to preserve its important architecture and history. Thank you,
Richard D. Moses President
cc: Hon. Margaret Chin, NY City Council
Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3
Linda Jones, Community Board 3