Christodora House

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Christodora House
Christadora-house-147-ave-b.jpg
Christodora House is located in New York City
Christodora House
Location 143 Avenue B, New York, New York
Coordinates 40°43′35″N 73°58′50″W / 40.72639°N 73.98056°W / 40.72639; -73.98056Coordinates: 40°43′35″N 73°58′50″W / 40.72639°N 73.98056°W / 40.72639; -73.98056
Built 1928
Architect Henry C. Pelton
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference #

86000486

[1]
Added to NRHP March 20, 1986

Christodora House is a historic building located at 143 Avenue B in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It was designed by architect Henry C. Pelton, (architect of Riverside Church, Manhattan) in the American Perpendicular Style and constructed in 1928 as a settlement house for low-income and immigrant residents, providing food, shelter, education and health services. The building as originally conceived included a gym, swimming pool, music school and theater. It was financed by Mr and Mrs Arthur Curtiss James, at a cost over $1 million. Reputedly George and Ira Gershwin played at the grand opening. It is fair to say that the building was the most impressive building of its kind, at the height of the American Settlement House Movement.

Initially the 16 stories of the building housed a music school, a pool and gymnasium, a library, clubhouses, workshops, offices, and two kitchens. These spaces were on the lower five floors of the building, and open to the public and settlement members. One floor housed the settlement workers, and the top nine floors were rented out as residences to provide income for the work of the settlement. The opening of the building was an event, widely covered in the newspapers of the day. The building, particularly its height and style, were intended to be seen as symbolic and inspiring: towering, modern, up to date, airy, clean and fireproof, its character representing the best in the character of the neighborhood.

The difficulties, not foreseen, of operating a settlement community and a "residential" community created complications for the Christodora Board of Managers. These financial burdens, coupled with the expansion of public housing, led the building to be sold via condemnation to the City of New York in 1948 for $1.6 million. The city planned to house delinquent boys in the building, operated by the Department of Welfare. However, for reasons which remain unclear the building remained empty or underutilized through 1956.

In the mid-1960s, a variety of unsanctioned community activity took place in the lower floors of the buildings. This led to a police raid and closure in 1969, which nonetheless did not stop these unsanctioned activities in the building. In fact, it has been bruited about that the national headquarters of the Black Panthers was housed in the building. Reports are that the building was also used as the setting for several pornographic films. The city sold the property for $62,500 in 1975.

By 1986 the building had been sold numerous times, and finally someone or some entity began to convert the building into condominiums.[2]

On March 20, 1986, someone or some entity added Christodora House to the National Register of Historic Places.

On August 7, 1988 the Tompkins Square Park Riot spilled over into Christodora House. Rioters appropriately chanted "Die Yuppie Scum" in reference to the "yuppie scum" residents of the building. The front doors were smashed and rioters ransacked the lobby of the building.

Today, the building hosts a diverse group of residences. Many are groups or organizations active in the community, such as The East Village Community Coalition, which has an office in the building.

Though they were operational at one point, the swimming pool and gymnasium can no longer be used. Zoning for these facilities stipulated "community access," and the facilities cannot be modified to provide the disabled access mandated by law.

Famous past or present residents include Walter Tandy Murch, Iggy Pop, Sigrid Rothe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Freedy Johnston, Marisa Monte, George Pendle, Andres Levin, Douglas Rushkoff, and Michael Rosen.[3]

Kim theft[edit]

Hedge fund manager Brian Kim had owned and lived in an apartment at Christodora House.[4][5] He was indicted and arrested in 2009, and accused of stealing $435,000 from the Christodora House condo association in 2008.[6][7][8] Kim allegedly falsified documents identifying himself as the president-secretary of the condo association, and then transferred $435,000 from the association’s bank account to a bank account he set up for his hedge fund, and then depleted all the money he had stolen.[9] He failed to appear at his January 2011 trial on those charges, instead fleeing to Hong Kong using a fraudulently obtained U.S. passport according to prosecutors, and was charged with jumping bail.[10][11] He was apprehended, and in 2012 he admitted to the theft.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ "The Villager, August 10–16, 2005". Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Blunt, Alison (2008). "The 'skyscraper settlement': home and residence at Christodora House". Environment and Planning A 40: 550–571. doi:10.1068/a3976. 
  4. ^ "Manhattan hedge funder charged with $4M Ponzi scheme may be on lam in Italy". New York Post. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Hedge Fund Founder Kim Gets Five to 15 Years for Scheme". Businessweek.com. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Manhattan hedge funder charged with $4M Ponzi scheme may be on lam in Italy". New York Post. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Liquid Capital’s Brian Kim Pleads Not Guilty to Hedge-Fund Ponzi Charges". Bloomberg. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Manhattan hedge funder charged with $4M Ponzi scheme may be on lam in Italy". New York Post. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Manhattan hedge funder charged with $4M Ponzi scheme may be on lam in Italy". New York Post. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Hedge Fund Founder Kim Gets Five to 15 Years for Scheme". Businessweek.com. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Ex-NY hedge fund head who fled admits $4M swindle". Crain's New York Business. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2014.