In a neighborhood filled with architectural anomalies, the little house with the front yard at 11 East 11th Street has a curious 164-year history. In that time, it went from stable to brothel to garage to private home before becoming a synagogue half a century ago.
First things first. The house was built in 1852 as a carriage house for George Wood, a wealthy lawyer who that same year constructed a stately mansion next door at 45 Fifth Avenue.
In that antebellum era, lower Fifth Avenue was a cream-of-the-crop street lined with freestanding mansions.
The families who occupied these impressive homes needed places to keep their horses, so they put up stables nearby set back from the road with a front yard for hitching.
The 19th century went on, and the richest residents moved northward. By the 1860s, Wood’s former carriage house had become a “disorderly house” raided a few times by the police, reported New York Times.
Yet Wood’s stable, with its tidy front yard, survived. With the arrival of the automobile era, it was turned into a garage with a loft, reported the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
11 East 11th Street “now has window arrangements typical of the 1920s,” the GVSHP wrote.”It has been roughcast in stucco with diamond-shaped tile patterns set in the parapet, which is crowned by a stone coping stepped up at the ends above small, square blocks.”
In the next decades, the little house served as a private residence and a “light protector” for the bigger Van Rensselaer Hotel next door.
In 1959, the Conservative Congregation of Fifth Avenue—which had been holding services in a hotel—made the former stable with the ginko tree out front its synagogue.
This year, looks like the house and property have been approved for a renovatation.
[Newspaper article: NYT July 21, 1867; fourth photo: 1951, NYPL]
Tags: 11 East 11th Street, Carriage House Greenwich Village, Conservative Congregation of Fifth Avenue synagogue, East 11th Street Greenwich Village, George Wood mansion Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village stable, Hotel Van Rensselaer, Lower Fifth Avenue mansions, New York in the 1850s