Monday, March 30, 2009
☞ PROTECT: Sylvan Court Mews
What is more enigmatic than the history of the mews on Sylvan Court (top photo) is that the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission does not see their value in relationship to other historic mews districts in the city. Mews are typically former 19th century stable yards that end abruptly in an alley-like layout. The carriage houses are only two levels or so and have historically been converted to cottage-like living quarters for the lower middle classes. In the New York City area, there remains the Sniffen Mews (lower photo) in Murray Hill, the Washington Mews by Washington Square Park, Sylvan Terrace in upper Harlem and the Brooklyn Heights Mews. All of the four have been landmarked and restored.
One of the East Harlem community sites mentioned its desire to have Sylvan Court landmark designated but expressed that there is not much left to protect that is original. We disagree. From the looks of it, only windows have to be replaced and the dirt road needs some paver stones or cobblestones for these charming houses to be complete. There are also government subsidies for this type of restoration if the property is part of a historic district in a low income area. Sylvan Terrace (see previous post) forty blocks north was in worse condition by the time it was landmarked a couple of decades ago, so there should be no problem restoring this rare bit of 19th century history in East Harlem to its former glory. The Sylvan Court Mews is on the street north of the landmarked Harlem Courthouse on 121st Street between Lexington and Third Avenues. Take the 4,5,6 to 125th Street or the 6 train to 116th Street.