Preservationists cheered earlier this month with the naming of the Lamartine Historic District in Chelsea; but those good feelings are bittersweet, as the address at the center of the row of Greek revival buildings?the Hopper-Gibbons House at 339 West 29th Street?is a decaying eyesore while its owners fight the city over an alleged illegal addition. The Hopper-Gibbons House is Manhattan's only surviving building linked to the Underground Railroad, which shepherded escaped slaves to freedom before the Civil War; and it survived the torches of an angry mob during the Draft Riots. But legal wrangling between the current owner, Tony Manounas, and the City over an alleged illegal rooftop addition has left the building with plywood-boarded windows and unfinished walls, and obscured by scaffolding.
Manounas and his brother Nick began the addition of a penthouse unit to the Hopper-Gibbons House in 2010 and were halted later that year by the City. Since then, Tony Manounas has held on to his right to appeal the City's decision (delayed in part by the death of his brother Nick) as the building sits in disrepair. One building resident told the Daily News, "It’s a moral and historical landmark. It should be a source of pride for the city and not just be allowed to be desecrated in this way."
· Underground Railroad house is an old wreck [NYDN]
· Manhattan's Underground Railroad Stop Landmarked [Curbed NY]