Once a police precinct, now a West Village condo

How cool would it be to find out that your apartment was once a holding cell?

Some residents of 135 Charles Street can answer that question. This stately limestone and granite building is the former Ninth Precinct, a circa-1890s station house that since the late 1970s has been a residence near Greenwich Street called Le Gendarme (“the policeman”).


Dedicated in 1897 by police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, the precinct was the real deal, complete with holding pens, cell blocks, and stables for police horses.

Charlesstreetstation1928nyplApparently no notorious criminals were booked there. But over the years, several officers associated with the station were killed in the line of duty—not surprising, as this was a gritty, industrial area near the waterfront that probably saw its fair share of crime.

After the precinct closed in 1969, a developer “added a floor and created 42 apartments out of the police locker and meeting rooms and arraignment areas,” explained a 1978 New York Times article.

“But his imagination was really tested in figuring out how to convert the 32 holding pens into ‘luxury’ living quarters.”



Today the station, with a facade that’s changed very little over the years (see the photo above, from 1928), blends right into the upscale far West Village.

But signs of its police past abound: from the Ninth Precinct lettering carved above the entrance to the figures representing the city of New York seal to the plaque in the hallway marking is dedication in 1897 by police commissioner Roosevelt.

And then there’s the charming “police patrol” window on the building’s wing, a spot that reportedly held troughs for police horses, according to a longtime resident.


[Plaque photo: Ward Kelvin; 1928 photo: NYPL]

Le Gendarme isn’t the only police station repurposed into apartments. The former police headquarters on Centre Street is now a luxury residence.

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6 Responses to “Once a police precinct, now a West Village condo”

  1. Stacy Walsh Rosenstock Says:

    Isn’t this the old 6th Precinct?

  2. bestestbrian Says:

    I’d agree with Stacy. Although NYPD precincts have changed designations often over the years, there doesn’t appear to have been a time when the 9th precinct became the 6th. http://www.nypdangels.com/a_bit_of_history/

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    It used to be called the Ninth Precinct before they renamed it the Sixth. See the lettering carved above the Le Gendarme awning. It’s faint in the photo, but you can make it out.

    • bestestbrian Says:

      My stupid job apparently used to change the numbers fairly frequently, and it’s tough to sort out the history. In trying to sort it out I’ve stumbled on this site that has many cool old photos http://www.policeny.com/sitemap.html Check it out if you haven’t come across it already; I’m sure there’s some stuff there you could use.

  4. The Ninth Precinct/Le Gendarme | The Flaneurist's Review Says:

    […] https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/once-a-police-precinct-now-a-west-village-condo/ […]

  5. This pricey co-op building was once a Lower East Side public library | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] York developers have made apartment buildings out of former hospitals, police stations, schools, and churches. Now, a library branch has undergone the transformation to luxury […]

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