Historic East Harlem Church Wants Security Fence Outside its Stoop

EAST HARLEM — A century-old church set to complete a multi-million dollar restoration wants to install a fence they say will protect the homeless people that sleep on the church steps every night.

Saint Cecilia Catholic Church has stood at 120 East 106th St. since 1883. More than 500 people attend their Spanish-language services on Sunday mornings.

The church is particular popular with Mexicans, Ecuadorians, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, said member Alejandro Torres, 66.

“It’s the best church in Harlem,” he said in Spanish.

The church is also popular with a group of homeless people who have been sleeping on the church’s stoop for years. They mostly keep to themselves and eat at the food pantry sponsored by the church, said Wanda Santos, 50.

“They don’t bother anybody,” she said.

To cap off a year-long restoration project, that involved repairing the crumbling facade and roof, the church wants to install a four-foot fence in front of the steps. A similar fence was installed with the church in 1883 but was removed before the building was landmarked, said Arthur Sikula of Arthur John Sikula Associates, the organization working on the restoration.

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By Gustavo Solis | July 30, 2015


Harlem townhouse, one of the oldest in New York City, sells for $3.6M to music lover

It’s a throwback to a time when Harlem was still a rural village and not yet legally part of the city.The home has been on the market for just a few months

An old clapboard house, widely considered to be the oldest single-family home still occupied in Harlem, has been sold for $3.6 million to a new owner who plans to turn it into a home and practice facility for struggling young musicians, the Daily News has learned.

The famed wooden property, at 17 E. 128th St., dates back to 1864 and is one of the few surviving frame houses in the neighborhood. It was landmarked by the city in 1982.

The new owner, San Francisco-based e-commerce executive Jack Stephenson, told the Daily News that he plans to lease the property to his friend, famed opera singer Lauren Flanagan. Flanagan will turn the house into a new location for Music & Mentoring House, a not-for-profit organization providing upscale affordable housing and mentoring to students studying in the arts.

“She takes music students in a gives them room and board, feeds them, makes their beds and gives them instruction in music,” Stephenson said. “There are boot camps and classes on how to get by in the business and she invites many famous friends like Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the musical ‘Wicked’ to come talk to them.”

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By Katherine Clarke | July 24, 2015

Harlem Landmark Is Reborn From the Base of the Old Corn Exchange Bank

Harlem Landmark Is Reborn From the Base of the Old Corn Exchange Bank

Harlem Landmark Is Reborn From the Base of the Old Corn Exchange Bank

Another 80-story building here or there? Yawn.

A seven-story building at Park Avenue and 125th Street? Now, that’s astonishing.

What makes it astonishing is that a productive end seems near for a dispiriting tale that goes back to the 1970s, when the ruddy former Corn Exchange Bank at 81 East 125th Street — “one of the most impressive buildings in Harlem,” in the words of the Landmarks Preservation Commission — was taken over by the city and largely vacated.

By mid-2015, the reborn Corn Exchange, developed by Artimus Construction at a cost of $14 million, will be open to retail and office tenants. The building is an entirely new steel-frame structure set within and rising over the 19th-century masonry base, which is all that remains of the original after years of troubles, fire, decay and gravity.

The depredation of the old Corn Exchange Bank has not only been an assault on Harlem’s well-being. It has also sent a powerful message of despair to the thousands who pass by the site every day on the Metro-North Railroad.

Among the distinctive features of the new office building will be projecting window bays, echoing those of the original. “The work, while not an exact replica of the historic building, will evoke the character and level of detailing of the historic facades,” the landmarks commission said in 2013, when it granted approval to the Artimus project, designed by Danois Architects. (The permit can be read on the CityAdmin website.)

An 1893 photo of the former Mount Morris Bank Building, later known as the Corn Exchange Bank Building, at 81 East 125th Street in Harlem.

An 1893 photo of the former Mount Morris Bank Building, later known as the Corn Exchange Bank Building, at 81 East 125th Street in Harlem.

“It provides something the Harlem business community has been asking for,” said Kyle Kimball, president of the city Economic Development Corporation, who is among the higher ranking holdovers from the Bloomberg administration. The corporation is overseeing the Corn Exchange project, having sold the property to Artimus for $500,000.

Constructed in 1883 as headquarters of the Mount Morris Bank, the Queen Anne-style building symbolized the growing importance of Harlem. But Mount Morris was taken over in 1913 by the Corn Exchange Bank, founded by former members of the Corn Exchange. After 30 years as a bank headquarters, the structure was demoted to a branch.

Chemical Bank swallowed up Corn Exchange in 1954. The new company was briefly called the Chemical Corn Exchange Bank and referred to by The New York Times as “Chemical Corn,” which sounds like something made by Monsanto. Or Brach’s.

After Chemical closed the branch around 1965, tenants included the Samuel Temple Church of God in Christ. The city acquired the property in 1972 for nonpayment of taxes.

In the 1980s, a day-care center was in the banking hall. John Reddick, an architect newly graduated from Yale, thought about living upstairs. “It was derelict, but looked habitable,” he said. The superintendent led him to the top floor — step by step. “The elevator had just crashed to the basement, literally,” Mr. Reddick recalled. “He said, ‘We’ll fix that.’ The upper floor was loft space. The view was just spectacular.”


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Jem Realty pays $22M for Alhambra Ballroom building

2108-2118 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem (Inset: Billie Holiday)

2108-2118 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem (Inset: Billie Holiday)

Times Square-based investment firm Jem Realty Management bought a seven-story office building on Adam C. Powell Jr. Boulevard in central Harlem for $21.5 million from Fort Lee, N.J., developer Mitchell Mekel, according to property records filed with the city today.

The 58,000-square-foot property at 2108-2118 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard near Olmstead Avenue last sold for $6 million in 2006, as The Real Deal reported.

Its ground floor is home to the Alhambra Ballroom event space, and formerly housed bowling alley Harlem Lanes and soul food restaurant Gospel Uptown. The Alhambra Ballroom was initially a vaudeville venue when built in 1905. The likes of jazz legend Billie Holliday and blues singer Bessie Smith performed at the theater.

Neither Alan Jemal of Jem Realty nor Mekel of Mitchell Enterprises could be immediately reached for comment.

The broker was undisclosed, though Jeffrey Brooker of Webb & Brooker handled the sale in 2006. Brooker, who died in at 2010, counted it among his greatest accomplishments during his more than 25-year tenure in the Harlem commercial market, a friend said at the time.

In November, Macy’s denied rumors that it was considering a store on 125th Street between Powell Jr. Boulevard and Lenox Avenue, at a site slated to be the new headquarters of the National Urban League, as previously reported.

February 21, 2014 04:45PM
By Mark Maurer          

St. John the Divine Campus Could be Landmarked in Deal With CB 9

St. John Devine Cathedral

St. John Devine Cathedral

HARLEM—The Cathedral of St. John the Divine could finally gain landmark status under a deal between the church, Community Board 9 and the developers of a new 14-story building set to be built alongside the cathedral.

Community Board 9 approved a resolution Thursday night that asks the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the entire cathedral campus except for a cut-out on a north lot where the Brodsky Organization is partnering with the church to build a 14-story, 428-unit apartment building that the church is counting on to fund repairs, upgrades and it’s ongoing operations.

In exchange, the Brodsky Organization has agreed to commit 35 percent of the building cost to minority, women and local businesses, said the Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, chair of Community Board 9.

“We helped the church and helped the community in doing it this way,” said Morgan-Thomas. “It may not be the ideal thing because none of us want to see anything but the cathedral and the campus but the reality is the cathedral and the campus won’t be maintained otherwise.”

Church officials have said that the 121-year-old Gothic Revival cathedral is in need of millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades that fundraising alone will never be able to match. After spending $8 to $10 million to develop service roads, the cathedral officials have said they will net $5 million per year from the new construction.

St. John’s has resisted efforts to landmark the entire campus for at least 10 years but has said the church itself could be landmarked.

During that time, the church leased land on 110th Street and Morningside Avenue that used to be part of the campus to developers who built Avalon Morningside Park, a 20-story luxury apartment building, in 2007.

Opponents of this new project, to be located on Amsterdam Avenue and 113th Street, say that it ruins views of the cathedral and disrespects a nationally recognized building.

“This new building is only 40 feet from the church and as high as the church. It’s out of place and outrageous,” said Walter South, former Landmarks Committee chair of CB 9 who voted against the plan which passed by a vote of 29 to 12.

South said he doesn’t buy the cathedral’s argument about needing funds to maintain the remaining campus.

“It’s like taking your wife’s engagement ring down to the pawn shop,” said South. “Why would you mortgage your future and not try national fundraising to save the building and campus?”

Handel Architects who designed the new building where rents will start at $1,700 has said the design of the modern glass structure will feature cutouts to create sight lines of the cathedral’s transept.

Another separate, smaller building, part of the north site development, will sit slightly east on West 113th Street and the two buildings will be connected by stairs.

But with this agreement, said Morgan-Thomas, the community will benefit from the construction of the building and have a tool to stop any future attempts of development on the campus.

Preservationist can also use the cathedral land marking to fight for a Morningside Heights Historic District, she said.

“If we don’t landmark this entire campus what’s to stop them from five to seven years from now saying we need to build something else?” asked Morgan-Thomas. “What we are looking to do is protect the campus, protect its majesty, so there won’t be continued development.”

By Jeff Mays on January 17, 2014 11:08am @JeffCMays

Landmark Fire Watchtower in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park will get $4M makeover

The crumbling 19th Century structure is the last remaining cast-iron watchtower  in the U.S. it is the only one remaining of eight that once constituted  Manhattan’s emergency alert system

The landmark Fire Watchtower sits behind a fence in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. The crumbling structure is set to get a $4 million makeover.

The landmark Fire Watchtower sits behind a fence in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. The crumbling structure is set to get a $4 million makeover.

Most New Yorkers don’t even know it exists, but a crumbling 19th century  landmark in Marcus Garvey Park is about to be turned into Harlem’s newest  sightseeing destination, thanks to a $4 million makeover that will be announced  Wednesday.

The cast-iron fire watchtower — the only one remaining of eight that  constituted Manhattan’s emergency alert system before the days of fire alarm  boxes — has been ignored for decades.

The Parks Department, Borough  President Scott Stringer and Councilwoman  Inez Dickens will each contribute more than $1 million to help rebuild the  deteriorating landmark.

“It’s the only remaining cast-iron watchtower in the United State of America,” said Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner William Castro, whose office plans to spend $1.1 million on the project. “It’s a unique phenomenon in New York City.”

Contractors will spend the next 12 months dismantling the structure’s rusty  beams, mending the least-damaged spots and replacing the broken pieces with  fresh slabs of cast iron.

Dickens, whose office pledged nearly $2 million to rebuild the 47-foot  relic, called the allocation a “smart investment that will pay for itself many  times over.”

 “It is one of the highest points in Harlem and has special historic cachet  as the last existing structure of its kind,” the Councilwoman added. “This  project will draw visitors and serve as a community asset.”

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Lenox Lounge to get its famed Art Deco furnishings back



A Manhattan Supreme Court judge recently ordered that the jazz mecca’s colorful interior furnishings and fixtures, including the striped walls of its legendary Zebra Room, be returned to Ricky Edmonds, landlord of its home at 286 Lenox Ave., sources said.

 Edmonds last year leased the venue between 124th-125th streets to Notar, the former Nobu managing partner who now runs Midtown hot spot Harlow.

Notar planned to revitalize Lenox Lounge, where jazz greats including Billie Holliday, Miles Davis and John Coltrane once performed — but which had fallen on harder times recently.

But in the early morning of Jan. 1, moving men disguised as cops barged in and hauled everything out, leaving the place “completely stripped and bare,” according to a $50 million lawsuit Edmonds filed against former Lenox Lounge operator Alvin Reed.

Reed had run the place for 30 years but said he couldn’t afford a rent increase from $10,000 to $20,000 a month. The businessman, who owns the lounge’s famous name, plans to open a new Lenox Lounge a few blocks north at 333 Lenox Ave. — but it will not include any of the original fixtures.

Notar, who was not a party to the suit, reportedly planned to call his place Notar’s Jazz Club. But by any name it would have lost much of its mystique without the old interior and parts of the façade.



“It’s been returned to its rightful home,” said Walker Malloy real estate broker Rafe Evans, who represented Edmonds in the lease to Notar. Some of the contents are in a warehouse and some back inside the Lounge site, sources said.

It was unclear how Notar would use the vintage elements in his new place. He recently filed with the Buildings Dept. for interior work but was traveling today and could not be reached.

Messages left for Reed and Edmonds were not returned. The answering machine at the office of Reed’s lawyer, Tyreta Foster, was full and could accept no more messages.



Harlem resurrection

Rebirth of grand

They’ll be raising the roof in this Harlem holy house again.

A developer finalized a deal last week to buy the long-shuttered St. Thomas the Apostle Church, and he plans to save the historic façade while converting the interior into community space.

GLORIOUS PAST: Top left, St. Thomas Church in its heyday and, above, awaiting a $2 million rehab job.

GLORIOUS PAST: Top left, St. Thomas Church in its heyday and, above, awaiting a $2 million rehab job.

The West 118th Street parish was down to just 36 families when the Archdiocese of New York decided to close the hulking, deteriorating structure in 2003, stripping out the storied stained-glass windows, pipe organ and altar.

Efforts to landmark the Thomas Poole-designed building, constructed in 1907, failed, and the church, which has been covered by scaffolding for years, has sat in limbo ever since.

It stayed that way until Ken Haron of Artimus Construction was able to purchase the church, rectory and another plot for $6 million.

Haron says about $2 million is needed to outfit the church for community use that could include a 200-seat performance space.

Haron said he hopes to turn the space over to the Mama Foundation, which specializes in the arts and musical performance.

After years of neglect, only about half of the now-deconsecrated church can be saved. The rear half will be razed for an outdoor yard.

The adjacent rectory, with its cast-iron fireplaces and stained-glass windows, will be turned into a condominium, said Haron, who built one of Harlem’s first new condo buildings across from the church a decade ago.

Haron will also create a 70-unit, 12-story, mixed-income residential building at the rear of the St. Thomas property. It could take up to four years to complete the project.

“We’re trying to . . . restore the façades of [the church and rectory] so the streetscape looks like it used to 100 years ago, more or less,” he said.

It will take “many millions” to repair the damage done to the building, said Haron, who declined to specify the costs of the repairs but plans to reuse much of the intricately carved ornamentation in the reconfigured building.

“If you had seen it before and you walked in now, your heart breaks,” Haron said of the once-pristine house of worship. “But if you hadn’t seen it before, and you walked in now, it’s still a wow.”

Haron’s plans met with approval from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, which has been eyeing the site since its closure.

“The community has loved this building and held it in high regard for years,” said conservancy president Peg Breen. “It’s not everything that the community asked for, but it’s a lot. It’s time that everybody work together and make sure there’s a viable tenant.”


Landmark church in peril

They’re praying for the immaculate construction.

Preservationists hope a Manhattan developer set to buy one  of Harlem’s most beautiful churches will save it.

St. Thomas the Apostle Church on West 118th Street  (pictured) has sat empty for nine years since the New York Archdiocese shuttered  it in 2003.

Efforts to landmark the hulking neo-Gothic structure built  in 1907 failed, and the building, which was recently covered in scaffolding, has  been in limbo ever since.

The archdiocese is in contract to sell the property and two others to Artimus Construction in a $6 million deal, according to papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The documents give no hint of Artimus’ plans. The  archdiocese declined to comment.

Peg Breen, of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, praised  Artimus Construction. “If this developer is true to its track record, it could  be very good news,” she said.

But locals were less sure of the impending sale, which  requires court approval.

“I presume they’re selling it to knock it down,” said  Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/landmark_church_in_peril_9A2LfAMBkIjRspUI0sZOmN#ixzz1y3UkNj32

Harlem Stage Gatehouse – Harlem Travel Guide – iPhone, iPad, iPod

In celebration of artists of color

In October 2006, Aaron Davis Hall moved into its new home in the Gatehouse and became known as Harlem Stage. This breathtaking structure, designed by Frederick S. Cook in a Romanesque Revival style, was part of the Croton Aqueduct water system. In 1981, this extraordinary structure was designated a landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Harlem Stage is recognized for its creation and development of new works by performing artists of color. Programs include: Waterworks, which supports the creation of significant new works and provides a forum for dialogue between artists and audiences; Harlem Stage on Screen, which supports the works of independent film makers; Harlem Stride, which offers a laboratory for musicians to explore historic and new trends in music, develop collaborative projects, participate in humanities activities with audiences, and present unique and exceptional music programs; E-Moves, an annual program where emerging choreographers showcase their work, which ranges from modern dance to contemporary ballet, hip-hop, and dance theater; SundayWorks, which is a free reading series for artists to present new works; Harlem Stage Partners Program, which supports co-presentations with significant artists and organizations; and Fund for New Work, which provides direct support to emerging artists through commissions, subsidized rehearsal space, and/or workshop presentations.

Visit the recently reopened Aaron Davis Hall they will provide quality low cost performances for the community. Then you can also explore some of New York City’s beautiful Collegiate Gothic-designed buildings on the City College of New York campus.

Transportation: Bus—M4, M5, M11, M100, M101 to 135th Street. Subway—A, B, C, D to 125th, 1 to 137th St.

Enjoy the show


  • More than 360 entries with over 2000 photographs
  • This visually rich app consists of detailed New York City visitor’s information from visitor centers, tourist websites, weather, news, holidays, sales tax, smoking rules, tipping and transportation to and from airports and in the city
  • Detailed descriptions which include uncommonly known cultural and historical facts, websites, phone numbers, hours of operation, prices, menus and hyperlinks that link entries and lead to websites for additional historical and factual information.
  • Entries sorted by name, category, distance, price, and neighborhood
  • Once click to websites, phones, online ordering, online reservations, current menus and more
  • Live calendar
  • Ability to share user comments and mark and save favorites
  • Ask the authors questions through in-app comments to get personalized feedback at your finger tips
  • YouTube videos
  • GPS enabled Google maps with walking, driving and mass transit directions
  • Access offline content anytime
  • Free upgrades for life

What’s inside

  • Nightlife and entertainment from jazz, Latin salsa, opera to classical music;
  • Theatre, dance, spoken word and more;
  • Restaurants featuring soul food to French cuisine and everything in between;
  • Unique ethnic retail shops;
  • Museums that celebrate various cultures;
  • Fine art galleries;
  • Majestic churches and gospel music;
  • Amazing landmarks;
  • Parks and free recreational activities;
  • Guest accommodations;
  • Free internet access and Wi-fi locations;
  • Authentic tours of Harlem;
  • Annual events and festivals;
  • Sales & Deals

   Literally a guide in my pocket

Posted by Max on 13th Jan 2012

I can only subscribe to what other people already have told about the guide. It’s just great that I can read a place description, actually give a call its manager, find it on a map and even hook up on its Twitter channel to keep my eye on it. Very smart!

Download the free Sutro World @ www.sutromedia.com/world and purchase the Harlem Travel Guide today for $2.99!

Follow Welcome to Harlem on:

Website www.welcometoharlem.com
Trip Advisorhttp://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1977036-Reviews-Welcome_to_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html