The missing 1824 row house on Spring Street

Toward the western end of Spring Street, between Thompson and Sullivan Streets in Soho, stand two humble red-brick row houses.

Like many of the Federal-style homes that sprang up in the early 19th century, as the rapidly growing city burst beyond Canal Street, the two houses at 188 and 190 Spring Street have been altered considerably over the years.

The dormers sticking out of the peaked roofs were combined, lintels removed and replaced, and new first-floor windows added, according to the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District Designation Report from 2016.

Still, their resemblance is easy to see; they look like twin refugees of low-rise 1820s New York, when the opening of the Erie Canal turned New York into the financial and manufacturing capital of the nation.

But there was at least one more house just like them next door at 186 Spring Street, and it looks like it was literally ripped at the seams from its companions.

According to one 1857 street map, 186, 188, and 190 Spring were a trio of similar-size houses smaller than their neighbors yet reflecting the uniformity of a formerly tidy residential block.

Today, only the outline of the third house in a row of triplets is eerily visible.

So what happened to 186 Spring? The house, also altered over the years (at right in 1940), met the wrecking ball in 2012.

Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz was the owner; he sold it for $5.5 million to a buyer who promptly knocked the house down after the Landmarks Preservation Commission deemed it ineligible for landmarking, according to a 2013 post on Curbed.

(Why was it ineligible? Too many of its historic features had been wiped away, reported David W. Dunlap in a 2012 New York Times article.)

The developer apparently planned to also demolish 182-184 Spring (the 2-story building constructed in 1921 on the corner of Thompson that’s now boarded up and empty) and put up condos, to the dismay of preservation groups like the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation.

It’s been several years since demolition occurred and the condo project was announced, and legal problems reportedly have stalled development. The lot where 186 Spring Street once stood is empty and behind boards.

The impression of the house, including what look like two chimneys, rises above the boards and refuses to let passersby forget that it was once there.

[Third image: NYPL; fourth image: New York City Department of Records and Information Services Tax Photos 1940]

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6 Responses to “The missing 1824 row house on Spring Street”

  1. Ty Says:

    We’d be Dubai by now without the LPR.

    If you’re down there check out the Ear Inn. Been a bar since 1817. At one time only a few feet from the shore upstairs was a whore house.

    They have an array of 19th century casks and bottles over the bar dug out of the sand basement during renovations to stabilize the building.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Oh I love the Ear Inn as a tavern and as a relic of early 19th century NYC. That place is loaded with old good vibes. And it used to be at the city shoreline! https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/the-hudson-river-shoreline-1766-and-2012/

  3. Greg Says:

    This should never have been demolished. It may not rise to the level of an individual landmark but it was an almost entirely intact two hundred year old structure that formed an essential part of a row of three in an important historic district.

  4. Abe Goteiner Says:

    In case anyone is interested … if you look you’ll see there is no 2609 Broadway. That’s on the west side of the street between 98th and 99th. There is a 2607 and a 2611. 2609 was my parents’ candy store — Manny’s Candy Store at 2609 Broadway.

  5. The mysterious portrait artist of Spring Street | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Bradley’s studio. Here’s the corner where it once was, at Greene Street, above. The mid-19th century Spring Street of small houses is long […]

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