LESPI Newsletter Spring 2013

Spring 2013

It’s a Celebration!

We really had something to celebrate: after much hard work – including petitioning, testifying at public hearings, letter writing, coalition building, and many other forms of outreach – we were thrilled when the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission stepped up and landmarked the phenomenal East 10th Street and East Village / Lower East Side Historic Districts last year.

So on May 9 nearly 100 people joined us for a party at the Bathhouse Studios at E 11th Street. There were a few brief congratulatory speeches – Richard Moses, president of LESPI, proclaimed that the districts were,

to his knowledge, “the first historic districts landmarked primarily for their tenement building architecture and role in immigration history.”

He thanked Councilmember Rosie Mendez for her critical support, our other local elected officials, Community Board 3 and especially the Landmarks Subcommittee, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, our sister preservation and community organizations, and everyone who worked so hard on these designations.

Mostly, however, the party’s focus was on chatting, eating, and drinking – it was widely agreed that the celebration was one of the most fun events we’ve held to date (which is saying something)!

The party was hosted and sponsored by Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI), co-hosted by Bathhouse Studios, cosponsored Historic Districts Council, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and East Village Community Coalition, and supported by friends Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Friends of the Lower East Side and Lower East Side History Project.

We heartily thank the Bathhouse Studios, especially Alyssa Adams, Historic District Council’s 6 to Celebrate Program, especially Barbara Zay, and Kehila Kedosha Janina on Broome St. for their ongoing support; and Carmel on 108th St in Forest Hills, El Camion Cantina on 1st Ave., Mastiha Shop on Orchard St., Metropolitan Citymarket on 2nd Ave., Souvlaki GR on Stanton St., and Veniero’s Pasticceria on E 11th St, for their generosity and delicious food and refreshments!

LPC Landmarks Bialystoker!

On May 21 the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to landmark the historic Bialystoker Home – a great victory for the preservation of the historic Lower East Side!

See the LPC’s designation report for a fascinating history of this important LES building.

Support LESPI!


Please donate to LESPI to help us in our work to preserve the historic East Village / Lower East Side! To donate, see HERE.

Or you can write a check to “FCNY/LESPI” and mail it to LESPI, c/o Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003. All donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.


We’re looking for people to help with outreach, people with specialized skills and experience, monetary donations, 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. Contact us at info@lespi-nyc.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Stay in Touch!

Go to “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!

Mary Help of Christians Needs Our Help Now

Chanting “don’t tear it down!” a large group of neighborhood residents, parishioners, and preservationists rallied on May 16 to protest the planned demolition of Mary Help of Christians on E 12th St. The church complex, consisting of a beautiful, Italian classical style church dating from 1917 and a historic rectory and school building, played a central role in the life of the Lower East Side’s Italian American immigrant community over several generations. The church’s bold architecture continues to dominate the streetscape.

Citing the church as “one of the most historic buildings in one of the most historic neighborhoods in our city and country,” LESPI president Richard Moses emphasized that the site’s developer, Douglas Steiner, needs only “a little creativity” to find a way to preserve rather than demolish the church: the design for his new luxury apartment building could readily utilize the site’s existing large open space without requiring demolition. Adding another layer to an already complex and historically important site: the day before the rally we learned that, prior to the church’s construction, the land had served as a Catholic cemetery, and that thousands of people may still be buried there.

LESPI’s Richard Moses addresses the Mary Help of Christians Rally

The rally, initiated and sponsored by LESPI with other neighborhood and preservation groups, received a lot of press coverage, including a spot on NBC’s 11:00PM news. But to date Mr. Steiner has declined to meet with us or, to our knowledge, even comment on the planned demolition. So we’re looking for the rally to galvanize further actions opposing the demolition, hopefully resulting in Mr. Steiner deciding to preserve rather than destroy the church.

Mary Help of Christians Church on E 12th Street

Lower East Side History Month

Earlier this month we attended the kickoff meeting for “Lower East Side History Month”, an annual celebration starting in May 2014 that will highlight the broad and rich history of the LES and explore how it can inform and inspire our present and future. The project welcomes diverse community-based groups and individuals to participate through a variety of public events, exhibits, tours, and learning opportunities. “It was like spontaneous combustion – all the many LES groups represented at the meeting were so eager, with splendid ideas on how to contribute toward making this event fabulous!” said Marie Beirne, LESPI Board member, who attended the kick-off. LESPI plans to participate fully during May 2014: we’ll post events on our website as we get closer to the date. If you’d like to get involved contact us at info@LESPI-nyc.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Photos by David Jarrett, Richard Moses and Barbara Zay


LESPI is a grass roots, all-volunteer not-for-profit corporation in NY State formed in 2007 to urge the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission 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 Lower East Side below Houston Street, and rallying community residents, city officials and the LPC to effect landmark designation. LESPI is a not-for-profit corporation in the State of New York. Our fiscal sponsor is Fund for the City of New York.

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.