LESPI Newsletter Fall 2011

Fall 2011


Artists, architects, preservationists, musicians, activists, and East Villagers of many stripes descended on the Bathhouse Studios October 20 for delicious local food, wine, and good conversation. Sponsored by LESPI and Art Loisaida Foundation, Art and Architecture Slam drew a total of about 75 people to Studio A, a large dramatic space more commonly filled with photography equipment and stagesets than with neighborhood artists and preservationists.

Guests were treated to the video piece videographer Steven Speliotis produced for the event: a brilliant collage of images of East Village / Lower East Side architecture and art that celebrated their mutual synergy and codependency. David Barish provided beautiful guitar music for the piece, and later in the evening treated us to a live performance. The venue itself was a work of art Рa 1905 Beaux Arts public bathhouse with an elegant arcaded fa̤ade replete with pilasters, balustrades, and cartouches, through which one enters into the ultra-contemporary studio space within.

Bathhouse Studios on East 11th Street, built in 1905 as the Free Public Baths of the City of New York

During the course of the evening, Richard Moses of LESPI briefly discussed the need to preserve the East Village / Lower East Side’s historic architecture, and how our urban environment strongly affects our creativity and sense of well being. Carolyn Ratcliffe of LESPI and Art Loisaida spoke of how rising costs are forcing artists out of the neighborhood, how the community lost one its largest art venues at old PS 64 and how more and improved art venues need to be made available for local artists.

The event was an outreach and fundraising success. But mostly it was about getting together in a wonderful historic landmark and catching up with friends, chatting with neighbors, and enjoying a beautiful East Village autumn evening.

We want to thank the many great local establishments who generously donated to this event, including: De Roberti’s Pasticceria, 1st Avenue; El Camion Cantina, Avenue A; Esperanto, Avenue C; The Immigrant, E 9th St; Jane McNichol; Met Foodmarket, 2nd Avenue; Palatofino, E 7th St; Percy’s Tavern, Avenue A; Russo’s Mozzarella and Pasta, E 11th Street; Something Sweet, 1st Avenue; Two Boots Pizza, Avenue A; Veniero’s, E 9th Street; Veselka, 2nd Avenue; Zucker Bakery, E 9th Street; and Art Loisaida. We also want to thank Steven Speliotis and David Barish for their artistic contributions, and Onno de Jong and Bruce Monroe for the event’s graphic design. And finally a large thank you to Bathhouse Studios, and to the many members and friends of LESPI and Art Loisaida who made the evening such a success!

SIGN ON! LESPI’s petition is now online

Sign on! LESPI’s new online petition urges the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to hurry up(!) and landmark the Proposed East Village / Lower East Side and East 10th Street Historic Districts. How? By holding a public hearing by no later than the beginning of 2012 and voting to designate the districts shortly thereafter. Go to the PETITION to sign on!

Remember – just because the proposed districts are calendered, they still DO NOT have full protection from demolition or defacement. So come on board and let the LPC know that these districts need full landmark designation now, so they get the full protection they deserve. Sign the online PETITION!

And by the way: our hard-copy petition urging LPC to landmark the historic streetscapes of the East Village / Lower East Side is now is over 1,000 signatures strong and counting. Thanks to all who signed!

Proposed East 10th Street Historic District

LESPI Announces Incorporation

In early October, the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative was recognized by New York State as an official not-for-profit corporation – a very exciting step for us! Incorporation legally establishes LESPI’s ability to perform our mission: to inform the public about the East Village / Lower East Side’s rich architectural and cultural history, and to advocate for landmark historic district designation for the area’s intact historic streetscapes.

In order to bring our operations in line with state law for corporations, we’ve replaced our previous governing system – LESPI’s Steering Committee – with a Board of Directors that will now take the helm. The board members are:

Richard Moses – President
Carolyn Ratcliffe – Vice President, Secretary
Britton Baine – Treasurer
Marie Beirne
Ricky Leung
Jean Standish
Philip Van Aver

As you may know, Richard, Carolyn, Britton, and Philip served on LESPI’s Steering Committee prior to our incorporation. Now we’d like to give a special welcome and thanks to Marie, Ricky, and Jean for officially joining on.

LESPI is also in the process of creating a Board of Advisors – a group of individuals with specialized knowledge and experience that support our mission. To date, we welcome Linda Jones, Katy McNabb, Bruce Monroe, Robert Slaughter, and Osvaldo Valdes. We want to additionally recognize and thank Katy McNabb for her four years of service and sage advice as a Steering Committee member, and we’re glad she will continue to be a part of LESPI from her new home in Vermont.

LESPI’s next organizational step is to apply for 501(c)(3) status, in order to gain Federal recognition of our not-for-profit status. Though we currently operate under the umbrella of a separate 501(c)(3) corporation, this recognition will allow LESPI to assume additional financial independence and continue to build organizational strength and support for our cause.

Newsletter images by David Jarrett, Bruce Monroe, Richard Moses, and Carolyn Ratcliffe

Support LESPI!

We’re looking for people to help with outreach, people with specialized skills and experience, monetary donations (which are tax deductible as allowed by law), and any other assistance that can help further our mission. We’d very much appreciate your help in our campaign to preserve the East Village / Lower East Side and hope to hear from you in the near future.

Search “Lower East Side Preservation Initiative” on Facebook and check out our site! If you click the “Like” button you’ll receive periodic preservation, history and architectural updates for the LES/EV. You’ll also be showing support for our cause!


LESPI is a grass roots, all-volunteer not-for-profit corporation initially formed in 2007 to urge the LPC to designate as historic districts intact portions of the East Village / Lower East Side. Our strategy includes documenting and mapping the historic streetscapes, starting with the East Village, and rallying community residents, city officials and the LPC to effect landmark designation.

Contact us by email at info@lespi-nyc.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or use the form, through our web site lespi-nyc.org, or by mail at LESPI, c/o Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003.