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NYU Ain't Playing with Provincetown Playhouse

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NYU is planning to demolish the Provincetown Playhouse at 133 MacDougal Street. This was once the artistic home of Eugene O’Neill, Edna St. Vincent Millay, e.e. cummings, and many others. NYU will replace the theater with an office building made of brick with modernist touches. Ironically, just 10 years ago, the university invested close to a million dollars in renovating the theater. L. Jay Oliva, then president of NYU, told the New York Times, “it's a piece of our history. It was a shame to see a piece of our history falling down like that. I think the Village will be happy to see it back in business again.” He had noble plans for the Playhouse, saying, "Being a showcase for new writers is a very Village thing."

Photo courtesy of New Deal

But times have changed. The “Village thing” is no longer about writers and artists. It’s about real estate riches. And the new president of NYU has been dubbed an Emir in thrall to petrodollars.Preservationist Christabel Gough recently spoke at a meeting at the borough president’s office and was declared “out of order” when she tried to read from the following statement:

The Provincetown Playhouse is a critically important historic site in Greenwich Village; it could be re-used, and it is irreplaceable. By proposing its demolition NYU ignores its commitment to support historic preservation in the proposed Greenwich Village South Historic District, and turns away from its commitment to consider alternatives before demolishing the historic structures among its many properties. Once again we are looking at the paradox of a scholarly institution destroying history. Can it be that NYU's administration is immune to any love, respect, or even recognition of the titans of American art, literature and theater who created and then flocked to the Provincetown Playhouse? Do these names mean nothing to the education industry?

Apparently so.
· NYU Would Drop Curtain on O'Neill's Playhouse [Villager]
· NYU Faces E. Village Shopping Basket Rage and Blinks [Curbed]
· NYU Cuddles Greenwich Village Before the Beating [Curbed] Jeremiah Moss