News

Landmarked Chelsea Row House Wins Legal Victory

Row House Is Last Known Surviving Manhattan Underground Railroad Site
Landmarked row house at 339 West 29th Street. (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

Landmarked row house at 339 West 29th Street. (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 19th century landmark house that served as a stop on the Underground Railroad has won a favorable ruling.

Preservationists had fought to restore the Chelsea row house at 339 West 29th St., that was once owned by outspoken abolitionist Abigail Hopper Gibbons and her husband.

As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported Wednesday, in 1863 during the infamous Draft Riots, the house came under attack.

“By the mob, who was surging down West 29th Street, then known as Lamartine Place,” historian and neighbor Fern Luskin told Silverman.

The photo of the block, owned by the NYPL, was taken in 1932 by Percy Loomis Sperr (Standard Reference: 0487-C3; 0487-C2, Digital ID: 711939f, Record ID: 401737)

The photo of the block, owned by the NYPL, was taken in 1932 by Percy Loomis Sperr (Standard Reference: 0487-C3; 0487-C2, Digital ID: 711939f, Record ID: 401737)

The historic Chelsea row house is the only known surviving Underground Railroad stop in Manhattan, the New York Daily News reported.

Luskin, a professor of art and architectural history at LaGuardia Community College, said the family escaped by climbing over the rooftops, which were even.

The rooftops are no longer even since the row house’s owner, Tony Mamounas, started construction on a fifth floor.

“Furtively, illegally,” Luskin said.

Gibbons family, in a photo taken in the 1850s at around the time they moved into their house on W. 29th St. (then called LaMartine Place). (credit: handout)

Gibbons family, in a photo taken in the 1850s at around the time they moved into their house on W. 29th St. (then called Lamartine Place). (credit: handout)

A judge has ruled the Landmarks Preservation Commission can order that addition torn down, Silverman reported.

Mamounas’ lawyer said he’ll appeal, but did not respond to a call for comment.

“If we can’t preserve the legacy of a landmark building, God help us,” said Luskin.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories