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2009-02-03 17:41:36
2009-02-03 17:41:36

Yes, sorry to say it, but NYU did indeed knock down Edgar Allan Poe's last remaining Manhattan residence at 85 W. 3rd Street (it was 85 Amity Street when Poe lived there) in order to build their new Law School Building in 2001. In addition, they destroyed two 1847 townhouses that had been remodeled by architect Stanford White when he designed Judson Church on Washington Square South just below Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Despite what grew to be an emotional and inspired campaign on the part of local and even world-wide preservationists (thanks to a brilliant computer person at the University of Virginia who designed our online petition that NYU could never block and which zinged letters to them on a daily basis), and a lawsuit brought by the Historic Districts Council, NYU prevailed. After many months of ever-growing bad publicity, NYU agreed to completely redesign the new building and reconstruct the facades of all three historic houses as a part of the design, even to using the original bricks and restoring the stoops of the houses. But like so many of NYU's promises to the community, this did not happen as promised, and what emerged were three facades made not from the original bricks but from prefab sheets that look like brick laid with mortar, no stoops (they pleaded lack of wheelchair accessibility to get out of that promise). In the end, they sort of look like townhouses, but are in no way authentic. All during the fight, NYU persisted in saying that Poe only lived in the house for about 3 months and didn't write anything significant while there, which we knew to be false. Poe's life is too well documented in the "Poe Log" published in the 1980's and by extensive scholarship. At least NYU finally put up a plaque which admits his actual length of residency and the works he penned while where. Unfortunately, somebody forgot to check with the English Department - the plaque is puncutated incorrectly. That's NYU - no friend to preservation OR punctuation!

Marilyn Stults

Member of the Save Poe/Save Judson Coalition (2000-2001)

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