The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously this morning to designate the Dr. Maurice T. Lewis House at 404 55th Street in Sunset Park.
Residents of Sunset Park were well organized and vocal on the latter, with more than 25 people providing testimony during the hearing.
“This is one of those situations that is somewhat unprecedented,” LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan announced to the other commissioners. “Our role is not to come in and stop development, but when there’s an important building at stake I think it’s important that we act.”
Movement on designating the Maurice T. Lewis House was swift. The Renaissance Revival house, designed by R. Thomas Short of renowned firm Harde & Short and built in 1907, was calendared only two weeks ago, on February 20.
It is rare for the landmarking process to move this quickly. The building, Sunset Park’s only freestanding mansion, was threatened by a developer’s plan for a “proposed horizontal and vertical extension” of the two-story house, according to the Brooklyn Eagle. The result would have been a 74-foot-tall building.
When the house was designated, the audience erupted in applause.
Earlier, there was a hearing for neo-Classical Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh, completed in 1908 and designed by Helmle and Huberty. Three people spoke, all in favor, including the owner of the building, but the commission did not vote on the matter.
Little was mentioned of the current plans for a 23-story mixed-use skyscraper designed by Fogarty Finger Architects that is already sprouting up behind the historic structure and will be one of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood, bringing more height and density to an area that was once the heart of Williamsburg.
Editor’s note: We erroneously reported earlier that the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh, located at 209 Havemeyer Street, was designated this morning. Today was the public hearing, but the Commission has yet to vote on designation.
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