Hudson and West Tenth Street Building Restoration Completed

Text and photo by Brian J Pape, AIA

View of the Hudson and West 10th corner, looking northwest.

Cowgirl restaurant, Empire Provisions, Westgate Cleaners, Southern Charm, Ready To Eat, and Bird Dog pasta restaurant, at the northwest corner of Hudson and West 10th Streets, have been shrouded by sidewalk sheds and scaffolding over its facades for most of the Covid pandemic. But a lot of work has been done and now the scaffolding has come down to reveal this 1889 building at its former glory.

According to the 1969 Greenwich Village Historic District report, 255 West Tenth Street, on the north side between Greenwich and Hudson Streets, is a large apartment building. It is actually part of a row of five tenement apartment buildings, with ground floor stores that extend around the corner into 519-525 Hudson Street, all the way over to the West Village Post Office station. Separate apartment entrances and the usual fire escape above each distinguish the tenements on Hudson, except the fire-escapes for 255 West Tenth are in the areaway separating it from the five story apartment house at 257 West Tenth, which is a part of this group with almost a duplicate façade of number 255.

These combination apartment buildings, on a 12,400 square foot lot, are treated with a uniform masonry facade displaying horizontal stone band courses and terra cotta trim. It is crowned by a most elaborate sheet metal roof cornice having arched pediments and a corner turret.

Built in 1889 for Frank Schaefler, it was designed by Rentz & Lange. The shop fronts are continuous along Hudson, with uniform cornices above uniting the various plate glass storefronts and entrances. The storefront and cornice treatment is repeated on the 255 West Tenth side, after four arched ground floor windows. Near the corner is also an ornate segmented stone arch in the wall above the cellar sidewalk hatch that looks like it used to be delivery stairs to the basement.

The second floor windows of the buildings have segmental arches in brick, those at the third floor have arched pediments with Queen Anne sunbursts at certain windows without a fire escape. The fourth floor windows are arched and have elaborate terra cotta keystones and inserts, plus ‘Juliet-balcony’ sills in the stone banding. Fifth floor windows have flat stone headers.

Brick, terra cotta and stone have had their grout joints repointed, window frames caulked, wood and metal repainted, and the elaborate sheet metal cornice faithfully restored. Hudson Street Equities Group, LP is listed as the owner of the entire set of apartments on the city land use map.

What is especially noteworthy is the roof cornice restoration. Corner buildings were traditionally treated as special visual landmarks, even as new construction, to highlight from a distance where the important intersections lay ahead. Unfortunately, these special “landmarking” features were more susceptible to deterioration, and often removed on many buildings throughout the city. This restored cornice and corner turret are once again the highlight of this important corner.