Save 50 West 13th St, home of Jacob Day & the 13th Street Rep


  • LPC Chair Sarah Carroll
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio


Support landmark designation of 50 West 13th Street and save its irreplaceable African American and theater history

Dear [Decision Maker],

I strongly urge you to support landmark designation of 50 W. 13th St., home of prominent 19th century African American community leader Jacob Day and the 13th St. Repertory Theatre. With the recent death of theater founder Edith O'Hara, the building's future is very much threatened, and this critical piece of New York history over the last century and a half should be preserved, especially given its profound cultural significance.

Built in 1846-47, this three and half story rowhouse retains distinctive and unusual Greek Revival architectural detailing from the first half of the 19th century. From 1858 to 1884, it was also home to Jacob Day, one of New York's most wealthy and successful 19th century African American businessmen and real estate owners, crusader for African American civil rights, and a prominent supporter of African American institutions. Day led efforts to grant equal access to the vote for African Americans while living here, and there is significant evidence that he was a supporter of the Underground Railroad, possibly even using his home to help fugitive slaves. This remarkably and rarely documented history is endangered, and may only be saved if the Landmarks Preservation Commission reverses itself and agrees to landmark this building.

Beginning in 1972, 50 West 13th Street was also home of the 13th Street Repertory Company, one of New York's oldest "Off -Off Broadway" theaters. The theater, and several which occupied the space before it, hosted decades of prominent actors, directors, artists, designers, and playwrights, as well as Off-Off Broadway's longest-running show ever, "Line." The 13th Street Repertory Theatre, helped launch the careers of Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Chazz Palminteri, Richard Dreyfus, Christopher Meloni, and many others. The theater space has also played a significant role in African American and LGBT theatrical history. For all these reasons the building deserves to be preserved.

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