A mystery ghost building on Lafayette Street

Every time I walk up Lafayette Street, it catches my eye: the stark imprint of a small house or building between Spring and Prince Street at what would be number 246. (Seen here in a 2013 photo.)

Short but with a sharply outlined chimney and slightly steeped roofline, It’s like a phantom from another New York, perhaps the mid-19th century. Who lived or worked here?

Lafayette Street has a long history. The stretch south of Prince was originally part of Elm Street, which began at Chambers Street and became a tenement district as the 19th century continued. (A sliver of Elm Street still exists near the Municipal Building.)

In the early 1900s, Elm Street was extended and connected to the former Lafayette Place—an elite enclave built by John Jacob Astor in the 1830s from Astor Place to Great Jones Street. The wide new thoroughfare was renamed Lafayette Street and became much more commercial.

The street name changes complicate unsolving the mystery. But according to a 2010 report by the Soho-Cast Iron District Extension prepared by the NYC Landmarks Commission, what was once number 246 was “a brick nineteenth century” demolished in 2008 to become a “dining pavilion” for a hotel on the other side on Crosby Street.

This 1940 tax photo (and a closeup) shows what the little building looked like. Perhaps it began as a house like so many other commercial buildings did in the mid-19th century, then changed as the neighborhood went out of fashion and became rougher around the edges.

[Tax photo: NYC Department of Records and Information Services)

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6 Responses to “A mystery ghost building on Lafayette Street”

  1. pontifikator Says:

    Ah, that’s my old building in the foreground of the second photo. Wish I could walk inside and see the place and the people who inhabited it in those days.

  2. Greg Says:

    Visible on Google Street view


    A shame to demolish an old structure just so that big building can feel more like one in Atlanta or Columbus.

  3. Belle Poitrine Says:

    I think maybe you meant Elk Street that still has “A sliver of Elm Street still exists near the Municipal Building.” It’s still located on the west side of the Surrogate’s Court building between Reade and Chambers Streets.

  4. Timothy R Hewitt Says:

    It’s “solving” not “unsolving”. To “unsolve” would be to obscure the answer. You mean the opposite.

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