4 Boro Neighborh'd Preservation Alliance

An alliance of civic groups and residents of New York promote sensible development in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.
 
HomeFAQSearchRegisterMemberlistUsergroupsLog in

Share | 
 

 Lamartine Abolitionist Homes

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Admin
Admin


Posts : 4
Join date : 2007-12-26

PostSubject: Lamartine Abolitionist Homes   Wed Dec 26, 2007 10:15 am

Here is a letter written by Fern Luskin regarding the buildings on W.29th Street that were part of the draft riots of 1863.

****

Ms. Mary Beth Betts
Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre St., 9th floor North
New York, N.Y. 10007

Dear Ms. Betts:

As an art and architectural historian, I am very concerned about the construction of two or more additional stories now underway at 339 W. 29th Street, which will disfigure a landmark building of great historical significance (see enclosed photograph). Because of its historical importance, this addition must be stopped. This house, built in 1847, not in 1900 (as erroneously indicated on Zoning map # 08D, Block 753, Lot 16), was the site of the Underground Railroad Station in New York for runaway slaves fleeing to Canada. The Civil War Sites Study Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-628, 16 U.S.C. 1a-5 note; 104 Stat. 4495) and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-203) recognize the need for preserving buildings formerly used as Underground Railroad Stations. The house was once owned by the noted Quaker abolitionists and members of the Anti-Slavery Society, James Sloan Gibbons, and his wife, Abigail Hopper Gibbons. Important opponents of slavery who stayed in or visited their residence on 29th Street include Abby’s father, Isaac Tatem Hopper, Underground Railroad activist (in 1852, due to terminal illness); Horace Greeley, who often lodged there; and John Brown (who, while spending the evening there in 1859, confided in Abby his plans for the raid on Harper’s Ferry and the freeing of the slaves that he hoped would result from it).

In his quest to end slavery, James Gibbons was one of the first to respond to President Lincoln’s call for 300,000 more troops and his poem, “We Are Coming Father Abra’am,” was the impetus for the phenomenonally popular Civil War song of that name, composed by Stephen Foster. During the course of Abigail Hopper Gibbons’ inspiring life, she contributed much towards alleviating the plight not only of slaves, but of poor women. She served as a nurse during the Civil War, created the historic Hudson (German) Industrial School and the Protestant orphanage on Randall’s island, and was instrumental in instituting prison reforms for women, including having female, rather than male, guards do body searches.

Because of the Gibbons’ opposition to slavery and their close friendship with Horace Greeley, a mob specifically targeted their house for destruction during the Draft Riots of 1863. James Gibbons, his daughters, and the famous lawyer, Joseph Hodges Choate, escaped the mob only by walking over the roofs of the neighboring houses (which were of virtually uniform height) and were saved by a Mr. Herrman who let them into the Hebrew Orphan Asylum at the end of the block. The looting and partial torching of the Gibbons’ residence was described in the correspondence of Mr. Gibbons, himself, as well as that of his daughters, their friends (including Choate and the renowned botanist John Torrey), and in court records.

The Gibbonses’ residence, like the other row houses on West 29th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues), was built by the Rev. Dr. Cyrus Mason, evidently in partnership with the entrepreneur, William Torrey, John Torrey’s brother. The block was called Lamartine-Place from the time it was built until 1898 and was, as Christopher Gray suggests in his “Streetscapes” column in the New York Times (1998), probably named after Alphonse de Lamartine, the French poet and politician. The Gibbons family resided at No. 19 Lamartine-Place. See the enclosed early photographs and maps of the block.

This lovely tree-lined avenue of row houses fronted by gardens, was also the site of other noteworthy occupants besides James and Abigail Gibbons. The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the first Jewish orphanage in New York City, was located at No. 1 Lamartine-Place (now 303 West 29th St.), from 1860-63 (see enclosed photograph). The Petitpas Boarding House and restaurant, once at no. 8 Lamartine-Place (now 317 West 29th St), was a bohemian magnet, due to the presence of the artist John Butler Yeats (William’s father). John Sloan (who, along with other Ashcan School artists, used to congregate there), painted Yeats at this locale in his 1910 picture, Yeats at Petitpas’ (see the enclosed photocopy of his painting). Other illustrious lodgers at this establishment included Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose nephew was married to one of the Gibbonses’ daughters and who, like that family was opposed to slavery. The popular soprano, Emma Gillingham Bostwick, who performed in the 1850s (see enclosed engraving and early daguerreotype), may also have resided on this block, as the name, “Mrs. Bostwick” was written beneath the address, “2 Lamartine-place, West Twenty-ninth-Street,” on a piece of paper found in 1862 that had been salvaged from a shipwreck. Finally, Lamartine Hall, on the northwest corner of West 29th St. and 8th Avenue, was the endpoint of the Orangemen’s parade and the Hibernians’ riot, in 1871 (see enclosed engraving and photograph).

The planned addition of upper stories to 339 West 29th Street will mar the current roof line and cornice shared by all of the historic town houses on this portion of the block (see enclosed photograph) and will forever obscure the Gibbons’ escape route over these roofs during the Draft Riots. Already, the steel girders for the additional stories are in place, a third floor has been laid down at the rear of the house (which was formerly only two stories high, as seen on the 1871 map), and the antique cornice (and bricks) on the façade have been removed, to be replaced by a vulgar, modern imitation.

It is important that we preserve, and not destroy, the architectural and historic legacy of Chelsea, in general, and of West 29th Street, in particular. Toward this end, we must protect this important building by conferring on it the landmark status that it deserves, specifically that of Underground Railroad Station.

Yours sincerely


Fern Luskin
cc: Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Speaker Christine Quinn
African Burial Ground (att: Ms. Tara Morrison, Director)
National Underground Railroad, National Park Service (att: Ms. Sheri Jackson)
Jewish Child Care Association (att: Ms. Leona Ferrer)
Mr. Barry Lewis
Professor Clare Huntington (Abigail Hopper Gibbons’ great-great-great grandniece)

encl’s: photographs
maps
letters to Department of Buildings and New York Department of City Planning
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://4boros.usersboard.net
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: Lamartine Blocks: Abolitionist Home and much more   Thu Dec 27, 2007 12:12 pm

A sizeable amount of info regarding both the Home of noted 19th century abolitionist/social reformer, Abigail Hopper Gibbons, as well as info re: the two block area ("Lamartine Blocks") in which the Gbbons house is situated, can be found at the below website:

http://savelamartineblockschelseaw29w30nyc.blogspot.com/
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: meeting FEBRUARY 21 re: 339 West 29th Street/AbbyGibbonsHome   Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:37 pm

There will be a meeting FEBRUARY 21 -of the Landmarks Task Force-of Manhattan Community Board 4 that will, among other things, adress the matter of 339 West 29th Street/AbigailHopperGibbons House

MEETING will begin at 6:15 p.m.

SEE BELOW

CB 4 Office, 330 W. 42nd St., 26th floor

1. Applications
TBD
2. Updates; action as needed
- West Chelsea Historic District
- Moynihan Station
- 339 West 29th Street
- Glad Tidings Tabernacle
- Other current issues
3. For discussion and action
- Proposed Garment Center Historic District (State/National Register)
- 304 West 47th Street
- Designation process in CB4
Clinton
Chelsea
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: Re: Lamartine Abolitionist Homes   Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:49 pm

The Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College
is the repository of the Abby Hopper Gibbons papers
as well as what survives of the Isaac T. Hopper papers.
The Gibbons papers are very extensive.

The library is also the repository for the archival records
of New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

The Library is always pleased to see interest in Quaker history
and related topic and welcome researchers to use their materials.

The website for the Friends Historical Library is:

http://www.swarthmore.edu/fhl.xml

For Inquiries PLEASE CONTACT:

Christopher Densmore, Curator
Friends Historical Library
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081-1399
Email: cdensmo1@swarthmore.edu
Telephone (610) 328-8499
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: Friends of the Underground Railroad   Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:18 pm

Friends of the Underground Railroad is a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and support of Underground Railroad history and sites. Friends of the Underground Railroad supports grassroots and official Underground Railroad programs and the preservation efforts of others. They believe that the history of the Underground Railroad is a critical part of our national consciousness and is as as important to our future as it was to our past.

Website
www.fourr.org


E-Mail
Membership and Partners people@fourr.org
Programs work@fourr.org
Giving support@fourr.org
Underground Railroad Sites legacy@fourr.org
General Information info@fourr.org

WHAT CONSTITUTES AN OFFICIAL SITE OF UNDERGROUND RAILROAD ?

Underground Railroad activity today resides mostly in programs, collections and writings around the nation, and it is often in these places where one finds the new fermentation on the Underground Railroad. But the actual Underground Railroad itself remains what it has always been, the network of safe-houses and the routes connecting them that began in the time of freedom seekers and still exists today. Unavoidably, the identity of many of these places has receded into the mists of time never to be known again, but a surprisingly large number of Underground Railroad sites remains known today mainly through oral traditions passed down over nearly 150 years, and a much smaller number through written accounts.

The number of safe-houses identified just in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio now runs into the hundreds, and the pattern of the network of routes among these places, often unclear even in its day, is now emerging. It should not be too long before the general public, the tourist and the scholar will have interesting guide maps showing the locations of many safe-house and routes.

A recent controversy surrounding today's Underground Railroad is whether plantations and other places of enslavement which stood in opposition to slavery and to the Underground Railroad should be considered Underground Railroad sites because freedom seekers' journeys began at such places. Some feel that a freedom seeker's starting place, no matter how opposed it was to freedom, should be regarded as part of the Underground Railroad, while others believe that the Underground Railroad was an anti-slavery phenomenon consisting only of places which supported the quest for freedom. This is an ongoing debate. Friends of the Underground Railroad as an organization has not subscribed to the view of places of enslavement being part of the Underground Railroad.

MOVEMENT TO PRESERVE MEMORY OF UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Friends of the Underground Railroad was incorporated as a non-profit New York corporation in 2004, was granted section 501(c)3 tax-exempt status in early 2005, adopted its by-laws in April, 2005, and is now establishing the following four programs in support of the Friends mission. Programs are being developed to complement the work and programs of other Underground Railroad organizations, particularly the Menare Foundation, the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the National Park Service Network to Freedom program and state organizations involved in the Underground Railroad


Beginning in the late 1990s, an unexplained rekindling of interest in the Underground Railroad began to occur, and none too soon after a long nationwide slumber. Teachers from grade school though university began including instruction on the Underground Railroad in curricula. Owners of buildings which had been used as safe-houses or of properties with Underground Railroad routes began restoring such sites and publicizing their history. In 1994, Anthony Cohen walked the route of his freedom seeker ancestors from Maryland to Canada for a landmark National Geographic story, and in 1996 founded the Menare Foundation, the first nationwide Underground Railroad organization, to document, preserve and restore Underground Railroad safe-houses and environments. In 1998, the United States Congress passed legislation creating a National Park Service program supporting preservation of Underground Railroad sites and history, and in 2004, both Friends of the Underground Railroad and the Freedom Center, an Underground Railroad museum in Cincinnati, were launched.

Two-thousand-four also saw the first of two landmark books on the Underground Railroad, Kate Larson's Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, which has quickly been acclaimed as the definitive biography of the this most important of all Underground Railroad personages. This was followed in 2005 by Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America, Fergus Bordewich's milestone work which provides the fullest portrait yet of the Underground Railroad enterprise. Others have begun producing works on various aspects of the Underground Railroad from state listings of sites, to the histories of individual safe-houses, to good historical fiction.

These new institutions, writings and the wonderful reawakening surrounding the Underground Railroad are vital, but only underpin the true import of the Underground Railroad today, the nation's vital historical legacy which won the war for the soul of America.

Through the efforts of Friends of the Underground Railroad and others, what began as a spontaneous reawakening of the nation's memory of the Underground Railroad is becoming more and more deliberate. In 2006, Friends of the Underground Railroad plans to inaugurate an annual prize to honor those whose work has led the way in rekindling the Underground Railroad, the Menare Foundation builds on its groundbreaking work, the Freedom Center continues to thrill visitors with its stunning museum and its moving exhibits, and the National Park Service has inaugurated a grant program of financial assistance to Underground Railroad sites and programs.

After a century in which the Underground Railroad came close to slipping from the nation's memory, the star is bright once more for those who continue to travel the Underground Railroad and for all others.
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: Re: Lamartine Abolitionist Homes   Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:04 am

Below is a statement prepared for Manhattan Community Board 4, Landmarks Task-Force.
The Statement comes from Mr. Lorcan Otway who is Historian of the 15th Street Monthly Meeting of The Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers)

Thursday, Feb 21, 2008

Often, in looking at the Underground Railroad, people look at the intake States, such as Ohio, and perhaps most importantly, Pennsylvania. However, New York City's role was not only vital, but has been often overlooked in the city's history.

New York was a jumping off hub. Often escapees, once they reached New York, could make a single jump to Canada, on Hudson River boats, or even occasionally on trains. I believe that a museum of Abolitionism and the Underground Railroad, in New York City, in the former home of an important abolitionist, would be a welcome tool in teaching tolerance, and a way of illustrating that some New Yorkers were central in a conspiracy for justice, reaching across barriers of intolerance to help others at great risk.

In a city with a rich history of both division and cooperation, to have a physical reminder of the best of New Yorker's work for social justice could be a reminder that working together, New Yorkers have done much in creating a more unified America.

Lorcan Otway
Historian of the 15th Street Monthly Meeting of
The Religious Society of Friends
commonly known as Quakers
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: [b]SOME BOOKS:[/b]   Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:08 am

SOME BOOKS:

Abby Hopper Gibbons,
by Margaret Hope Bacon

Slavery and the Meetinghouse,
by Ryan P. Jordan

Stories of Freedom in Black New York,
by Shane White

Slavery in New York ,
by Ira Berlin and Leslie M.Harris (NY Historical Society pub.}
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: [b]Letter of support: Curator Friends Historical Library[/b]   Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:36 am

Below is copy of the letter of support from Mr.Christopher Densmore, who is Curator of the
Friends Historical Library, based at Swarthmore College.


2641 Brintons
Bridge Rd.
West Chester, PA 19081

February 20, 2008

Hon. Robert G.Tierney, Chair
Landmarks Preservation Commission
2 Centre Street, 9th floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Robert G. Tierny:

RE: Gibbons Home on 29th Street

I have heard from several people about efforts to preserve and interpret
the Gibbons Home at 339 West 29th Street in New York City.

In my professional work, I am curator of Friends Historical Library at
Swarthmore College, and we are the repository for the papers of Abby
Hopper Gibbons and for her father, Isaac T. Hopper, as well as for the
records of the Society of Friends (Quakers) throughout the mid-Atlantic,
including New York Yearly Meeting. I have written and lectured
extensively on Quakers and on the abolition movement, particularly the
Underground Railroad.

The Hoppers and the Gibbons were in the forefront of the anti-slavery
movement from 1790s, when Isaac T. Hopper began his career in aiding
fugitive slaves, through the Civil War and the Gibbons carried the concern
for the welfare of the formerly enslaved. Too often claims for the
connection of this or that site as having been on the Underground Railroad
is based on wishful thinking and speculation. In contrast, there is no
question of the major contributions of the Gibbons and Hoppers to the
anti-slavery struggle.

I am on the “academic” side of the history profession. I’ve published with
Syracuse University Press and a number of academic journals and in my work
at Friends Historical Library I assist graduate students writing
dissertations and scholars preparing books or articles. This “academic”
work to uncover and explain the past is highly important, but the number
of people who will read a “scholarly” journal article is limited. Most
of this writing is by specialists for specialists. There are far greater
audiences who are sincerely interested in history but will get their
history though visits to historic sites or museums, films, television or
novels. The existence of physical structures and sites is often the
needed anchor that interests visitors in a story and allows us to tell the
story. In the case of the Gibbons house, that story is of slavery and
abolition. Unlike many historical topics, stories of slavery and
abolition have modern resonance. As one historian said, “history is a way
we talk about race in America.” I speak frequently on the Underground
Railroad to popular audiences, and invariably the discussion includes,
usually very explicitly, questions or comments about what that story says
about where we are today in America on race. Sometimes these
discussions may be uncomfortable, but I think they are always useful.


I am also a big fan of authenticity. I see history as stories, but I want
true stories and when I see historic sites, I want to know that I am
seeing a real place where specific things happened involving particular
people. History needs both places and faces. The Gibbons home is such a
place. It is an anchor to the story of the long struggle against slavery
and for human rights. To preserve and mark the Gibbons house provides a
tangible link to this past history, and this history is directly related
to the concerns of today.

I very much support efforts to preserve the integrity of this structure.


Sincerely,

Christopher Densmore


cc Mary Beth Betts, Director of Research, LPC
Fern Luskin


Christopher Densmore, Curator
Friends Historical Library
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081-1399
cdensmo1@swarthmore.edu
(610) 328-8499
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: Letter to Dept of Buildings from Manhattan Community Board 4   Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:55 am

JEAN-DANIEL NOLAND
Chair

ROBERT J. BENFATTO, JR., ESQ.
District Manager

CITY OF NEW YORK
MANHATTAN COMMUNITY BOARD FOUR
330 West 42nd Street,
26 thfloor New York, NY 10036
tel: 212-736-4536 fax: 212-947-9512
www.ManhattanCB4.org

October 4, 2007
Hon. Patricia Lancaster
Commissioner
Department of Buildings
220 Broadway, 7th floor
New York, NY 10007

Re: 339 West 29th Street

Dear Commissioner Lancaster:

Manhattan Community Board No. 4 is writing to express its concern that the remodeling of the
historically significant building at 339 West 29th Street should be conducted according to
accurate and conforming plans and that the construction should not damage the building or in
any way compromise its structural integrity. We ask that the plans and construction methods be
the subject of a thorough audit and careful monitoring.

Evidence has recently come to the attention of the Board through a neighbor, Ms. Fern Luskin,
that the building was not only, as was previously known, the home of the prominent abolitionists
James Sloan Gibbons and his wife Abigail Hopper Gibbons, but was also specifically targeted
during the Draft Riots of 1863 and can further be established through a contemporary eyewitness
as being a station on the Underground Railroad. These historic facts are confirmed by the
attached documents from communications by Ms. Luskin to the Board. The federal statutes cited
by Ms. Luskin in her first letter to you make it clear that it is an important matter of public policy
that stations of the Underground Railroad should be preserved, and the rarity of documented
stations makes preservation of 339 West 29th Street to the degree feasible particularly important.
The Buildings Information Service confirms that more than one violation has been issued for
work on this site and that a stop-work order is still in effect. This history and the belief of the
neighbors that the construction has been carried on unsafely and following plans inconsistent
with the requirements of the protective zoning obtained by the Board through the Chelsea 197-a
Plan are matters of serious concern. Although the plans filed dated 2/14/07 appear to be largely
conforming and would have only a moderate impact on the appearance of the building,
construction underway at the time of the stop work order appears to follow other plans and to
have a significant impact on the façade. It raises issues about the height of the new construction
above the datum line. The construction may well violate the sliver regulations under any
interpretation of this text. It is essential that all issues be cleared up before work can be allowed
to resume on the building.

The Board believes that it is important to ensure the maximum feasible preservation of this
important historic resource. The precautions we have requested are a necessary step to following
up with other agencies such as the State Historic Preservation Office and the Landmarks
Preservation Commission.

Sincerely,
Jean-Daniel Noland
Edward Kirkland
Chair, Manhattan Community Board 4
Chair, Landmarks Task Force
Attachments (2)

Cc: Electeds
Landmarks Preservation Commission
State Historic Preservation Office
Municipal Art Society
Historic Districts Council
Ms. Fern Luskin
Mr. Curtis Jewell
Page 3

Attachment 1
Re: 339 West 29th Street
347 West 29th St. – Apt. 14
New York, N. Y. 10001
luskin12@verizon.net

Ms. Mary Beth Betts
Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre St., 9th floor North
New York, N.Y. 10007

Dear Ms. Betts:
As an art and architectural historian, I am very concerned about the construction of two
or more additional stories now underway at 339 W. 29th Street, which will disfigure a landmark
building of great historical significance (see enclosed photograph). Because of its historical
importance, this addition must be stopped. This house, built in 1847, not in 1900 (as erroneously
indicated on Zoning map # 08D, Block 753, Lot 16), was the site of the Underground Railroad
Station in New York for runaway slaves fleeing to Canada. The Civil War Sites Study Act of
1990 (Public Law 101-628, 16 U.S.C. 1a-5 note; 104 Stat. 4495) and the National Underground
Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-203) recognize the need for
preserving buildings formerly used as Underground Railroad Stations. The house was once
owned by the noted Quaker abolitionists and members of the Anti-Slavery Society, James Sloan
Gibbons, and his wife, Abigail Hopper Gibbons. Important opponents of slavery who stayed in
or visited their residence on 29th Street include Abby’s father, Isaac Tatem Hopper, Underground
Railroad activist (in 1852, due to terminal illness); Horace Greeley, who often lodged there; and
John Brown (who, while spending the evening there in 1859, confided in Abby his plans for the
raid on Harper’s Ferry and the freeing of the slaves that he hoped would result from it).
In his quest to end slavery, James Gibbons was one of the first to respond to President
Lincoln’s call for 300,000 more troops and his poem, “We Are Coming Father Abra’am,” was
the impetus for the phenomenonally popular Civil War song of that name, composed by Stephen
Foster. During the course of Abigail Hopper Gibbons’ inspiring life, she contributed much
towards alleviating the plight not only of slaves, but of poor women. She served as a nurse
during the Civil War, created the historic Hudson (German) Industrial School and the Protestant
orphanage on Randall’s island, and was instrumental in instituting prison reforms for women,
including having female, rather than male, guards do body searches.

Because of the Gibbons’ opposition to slavery and their close friendship with Horace
Greeley, a mob specifically targeted their house for destruction during the Draft Riots of 1863.
James Gibbons, his daughters, and the famous lawyer, Joseph Hodges Choate, escaped the mob
only by walking over the roofs of the neighboring houses (which were of virtually uniform
height) and were saved by a Mr. Herrman who let them into the Hebrew Orphan Asylum at the
end of the block. The looting and partial torching of the Gibbons’ residence was described in the
correspondence of Mr. Gibbons, himself, as well as that of his daughters, their friends (including
Choate and the renowned botanist John Torrey), and in court records.

The Gibbonses’ residence, like the other row houses on West 29th Street (between 8th and
9th Avenues), was built by the Rev. Dr. Cyrus Mason, evidently in partnership with the
entrepreneur, William Torrey, John Torrey’s brother. The block was called Lamartine-Place
from the time it was built until 1898 and was, as Christopher Gray suggests in his “Streetscapes”
column in the New York Times (1998), probably named after Alphonse de Lamartine, the
French poet and politician. The Gibbons family resided at No. 19 Lamartine-Place. See the
enclosed early photographs and maps of the block.

This lovely tree-lined avenue of row houses fronted by gardens, was also the site of other
noteworthy occupants besides James and Abigail Gibbons. The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the
first Jewish orphanage in New York City, was located at No. 1 Lamartine-Place (now 303 West
29thSt.), from 1860-63 (see enclosed photograph). The Petitpas Boarding House and restaurant,
once at no. 8 Lamartine-Place (now 317 West 29thSt), was a bohemian magnet, due to the
presence of the artist John Butler Yeats (William’s father). John Sloan (who, along with other
Ashcan School artists, used to congregate there), painted Yeats at this locale in his 1910 picture,
Yeats at Petitpas’ (see the enclosed photocopy of his painting). Other illustrious lodgers at this
establishment included Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose nephew was married to one of the
Gibbonses’ daughters and who, like that family was opposed to slavery. The popular soprano,
Emma Gillingham Bostwick, who performed in the 1850s (see enclosed engraving and early
daguerreotype), may also have resided on this block, as the name, “Mrs. Bostwick” was written
beneath the address, “2 Lamartine-place, West Twenty-ninth-Street,” on a piece of paper found
in 1862 that had been salvaged from a shipwreck. Finally, Lamartine Hall, on the northwest
corner of West 29thSt. and 8thAvenue, was the endpoint of the Orangemen’s parade and the
Hibernians’ riot, in 1871 (see enclosed engraving and photograph).
The planned addition of upper stories to 339 West 29th
Street will mar the current roof
line and cornice shared by all of the historic town houses on this portion of the block (see
enclosed photograph) and will forever obscure the Gibbons’ escape route over these roofs during
the Draft Riots. Already, the steel girders for the additional stories are in place, a third floor has
been laid down at the rear of the house (which was formerly only two stories high, as seen on the
1871 map), and the antique cornice (and bricks) on the façade have been removed, to be replaced
by a vulgar, modern imitation.

It is important that we preserve, and not destroy, the architectural and historic legacy of
Chelsea, in general, and of West 29th Street, in particular. Toward this end, we must protect this
important building by conferring on it the landmark status that it deserves, specifically that of
Underground Railroad Station.

Yours sincerely
Fern Luskin
cc:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Speaker Christine Quinn
African Burial Ground (att: Ms. Tara Morrison, Director)
National Underground Railroad, National Park Service (att: Ms. Sheri Jackson)
Jewish Child Care Association (att: Ms. Leona Ferrer)
Mr. Barry Lewis
Professor Clare Huntington (Abigail Hopper Gibbons’ great-great-great grandniece)
encl’s: photographs
maps
letters to Department of Buildings and New York Department of City Planning


Attachment 2
Re: 339 West 29
th
Street
From: Fern Luskin [mailto:luskin12@verizon.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 4:31 PM

To: Renee Schoonbeek

Subject: RE: 339 West 29th Street

Dear Ms. Schoonbeek,

I just found an extremely important document indicating, irrefutably, that Abigail Hopper
Gibbons and her husband, James Sloan Gibbons, provided refuge for runaway slaves. It was
written by their close friend, the renowned lawyer Joseph M. Choate. Choate, who used to visit
the Gibbons home after coming to New York in 1855, states "the house of Mrs. Gibbons was a
great resort of abolitionists and extreme antislavery people from all parts of the land, as it was
one of the stations of the underground railroad by which fugitive slaves found their way from the
South to Canada. I have dined with that family in company with William Lloyd Garrison, and
sitting at the table with us was a jet-black negro who was on his way to freedom...Lucretia Mott
the celebrated female preacher of that day was also a frequent guest." [from Dorothy G.
Becker, Abigail Hopper Gibbons (New York, 1989), pp. 6-7, citing Edward Sandford Martin,
The Life of Joseph Hodges Choate: As Gathered Chiefly from his Letters (New York, 1920), 2
Vols. Vol.I, pp. 96,99.

As Underground Railroad Stations are supposed to be preserved by law, 339 West 29th St.
(the Gibbons' home) must be given landmark status. The Building Permit given to the owner of
339 W. 29th St. should be rescinded, not only due to the historic importance of this building, but
on the basis of the fraud committed by the architect and builder in submitting an architectural
plan with a so-called pre-existing fictional 6th story.

The residents of 29th St., therefore, strongly urge Mayor Bloomberg to override the Building
Permit the owner was granted to vertically and horizontally enlarge 339 West 29th St. Both he
and the Landmarks Preservation should, moreover, give it this antebellum row house
the landmark status it deserves, thus preserving the architectural integrity of this building.

Thank you again for your help.

Sincerely,
Fern Luskin
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: Hopper-Gibbons House is featured in NY Times article!   Sun Mar 02, 2008 8:21 pm

339 West 29th St/Hopper-Gibbons House is featured in NY Times article about the challenge of preserving homes tied to the Undergound Railroad !

On Sunday (Feb 24) the NY Times published an article on the challenges of preserving homes tied to the Underground Railroad, featuring 339 West 29th Street, i.e. the Hopper-Gibbons House. Below is a quote from the article.

For the full article please go to:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/nyregion/thecity/24slav.html?ref=thecity

For anyone feeling inspired to send a letter to City Section Editor in response to the article:
Letters to City Section Editor should be emailed to: cityletters@nytimes.com

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
THE NEW YORK TIMES
February 24, 2008
Chelsea
Retracing the Elusive Footsteps of a Secretive History
By EMILY BRADY



ONE balmy day last April, an art and architecture historian named Fern Luskin hauled her laptop and a collapsible chair up to the roof of the Chelsea town house where she lives to work outside for a while. From the top of her building, on West 29th Street near Eighth Avenue, the view to the south is dominated by the bulky towers of the Penn South apartment complex. To the northeast, the Empire State Building pierces the sky.

But on this particular day, neither the panorama nor her laptop could distract Ms. Luskin from the scene unfolding three doors over, where workmen were attaching long steel beams and poles to a neighboring rooftop. It was the beginning of what she correctly assumed was the construction of a vertical addition to the nearby building — in other words, a penthouse.

Ms. Luskin, a professor of art history at La Guardia Community College, was distressed. Her trained eye relished the uniformity of the row of five town houses that included both her building and the one at No. 339 being readied for construction. The addition, she feared, would be what she described as an “aesthetic disturbance.”

After learning that the town houses were built in 1847, more than 50 years earlier than she had thought, Ms. Luskin decided to delve into the past of No. 339. For two months, she combed through historical archives and databases, and she discovered that No. 339 was apparently Manhattan’s first documented safe house for escaped slaves — a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Uncovering the story became something of an obsession as Ms. Luskin pieced together clues about the lives of Abigail Hopper Gibbons and James Sloan Gibbons, well-known Quaker abolitionists who lived in the building in its early years.

“It got so exciting,” Ms. Luskin said, “I couldn’t stop.”
After finding a period map that linked the Gibbonses to the house, Ms. Luskin discovered a passage in a letter published in a biography of a renowned 19th-century lawyer named Joseph Hodges Choate describing a meal he ate at the house with a young escaped slave who was fleeing to Canada.

Though buildings throughout the city are often thought to have been part of the escape route north, finding documents that provide proof is extremely difficult. “It’s incredibly rare that you can substantiate it,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “Locations were secretive by their very nature.”

Despite the documentation Ms. Luskin collected, No. 339 could not originally be considered for designation as a landmark because a building permit had been issued for the construction project. However, construction is at a standstill; according to Kate Lindquist, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings, the permit for construction of the penthouse is being revoked, in part because an agency review determined that the architectural plans did not comply with building and zoning codes.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is currently evaluating No. 339 to see if it is eligible for designation as a landmark, news that will no doubt delight some local residents.

“Being one of the few African-Americans on the block, I have an emotional connection to this history,” said Curtis Jewell, a 55-year-old truck driver for the Postal Service who has lived in Ms. Luskin’s building for 10 years. “You have a lot of cultural history in New York that money seems to want to push out of the way.”

[img][/img]
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
temp



Posts : 1
Join date : 2008-03-19

PostSubject: Thanks for posting about this   Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:30 am

Thanks for all your work in defending the Lamartine homes!
Back to top Go down
View user profile
berdachenyc



Posts : 12
Join date : 2007-12-27
Location : Chelsea,Manhattan,New York City

PostSubject: [b]VIEW A VIDEO RE: The HOPPER_GIBBONS house (339 West 29th   Wed May 14, 2008 12:36 pm

VIEW A VIDEO RE: The HOPPER-GIBBONS house (339 West 29th St.)

There is now a video of a news segment re: The HOPPER-GIBBONS house (339 West 29th St.)
posted on YOU-TUBE at:

[b]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-flGoi0rWg
Back to top Go down
View user profile http://saveabolitionisthome339w29stnyc.blogspot.com/
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: Lamartine Abolitionist Homes   

Back to top Go down
 
Lamartine Abolitionist Homes
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
4 Boro Neighborh'd Preservation Alliance :: 4 Boro Member Discussion :: 4Boros-
Jump to: