Patchin Place

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Coordinates: 40°44′06″N 73°59′58″W / 40.73499°N 73.99931°W / 40.73499; -73.99931

Patchin Place in 2011

Patchin Place is a gated cul-de-sac located off of 10th Street between Greenwich Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Its ten 3-story[1] brick row houses, said to have been originally built as housing for the Basque staff of the nearby Brevoort House hotel,[2] have been home to several famous writers, including Theodore Dreiser, E. E. Cummings, John Cowper Powys and Djuna Barnes, making it a stop on Greenwich Village walking tours. Today it is a popular location for psychotherapists' offices.[3]

History[edit]

The property that became Patchin Place was once part of a farm belonging to Sir Peter Warren. In 1799 it was sold to Samuel Milligan, who later conveyed it to his son-in-law, Aaron Patchin.[4] The buildings that now occupy the site were put up in 1848[1] or 1849.[2] Many guide books say the buildings were intended to be boarding houses for Basque waiters and other workers at the Brevoort House hotel on Fifth Avenue, but the Brevoort was not built until 1855.[5] The rooms were small, and at the time, the street was noisy due to its proximity to the vendors in Jefferson Market.[6]

The 1917 book about Greenwich Village in which this illustration first appeared described Patchin Place as "one of the strange little 'lost courts' given over to the Villagers and their pursuits".[7]

In the early 20th century, Patchin Place became popular with writers and artists for the privacy it offered in the middle of Bohemia. Indoor plumbing, electricity, and steam heat were added in 1917.[8] In 1920, Grace I. Patchin Stuart, the last remaining member of the Patchin family, sold the property to the Land Map Realty Corporation, and the houses were converted into small apartments.[9] E. E. Cummings moved in three years later; he wrote that "the topfloorback room at 4 Patchin Place ... meant Safety & Peace & the truth of Dreaming & the bliss of Work".[10]

In 1929 the gate at the entrance was added and nearby Jefferson Market prison was torn down, as Patchin Place resident John Cowper Powys noted in a letter to his brother:[11]

They've gone and put up iron gates at the entrance to Patchin Place — in the middle of the entrance — leaving the little openings by the new brick posts free. And they've pulled down the Prison — but so far not the Clock tower. In the foundations of this fallen Bastille, from where of so many Sundays we heard the imprisoned Baggages sing about heaven, is an iron clutcher with a dragonish dew-lap scooping earth and hissing with a steamy vibrant roar. I am deaf of one ear — but this noise is very strident. But do you know we can now see the Woolworth tower and also the Singer Tower from the entrance of Patchin Place....

The clock tower that Powys refers to is Jefferson Market Court, now a library branch. Berenice Abbott photographed the view of the tower above Patchin Place in 1937.[8]

The modernist writer Djuna Barnes, a friend of Abbott's, moved into a room-and-a-half apartment at #5 Patchin Place in 1941. She had lived in Greenwich Village in the 1910s and had been in the audience when residents organized a performance of William Butler Yeats's play The King's Threshold in the courtyard of Patchin Place as a war benefit, but had spent most of the 1920s and 30s in Europe.[12] After her return to New York she became so reclusive that Cummings would occasionally check on her by shouting out his window "Are you still alive, Djuna?"[13] Yet in 1963, when a developer proposed to tear down the houses on Patchin and nearby Milligan Place in order to put up a high-rise apartment building, she left her apartment to tell a protest meeting that she would die if she had to move, and, less helpfully, that the destruction of the neighborhood would leave local youths with nowhere to practice their mugging.[14] Community activists, led by future mayor Ed Koch, succeeded in saving Patchin Place, and in 1969 it became landmarked[8] with the creation of the Greenwich Village Historic District.[1] Though she complained about "writing amid the roaring of plumbing, howling of downstairs dog, thumping of small child on elephant's feet",[15] Barnes remained in residence until her death in 1982.

Present day[edit]

Patchin Place remains physically almost unchanged. It even retains its 19th-century gas street lamp—one of only two in New York City, and the only one that still gives light, though the light is now electric.[16]Usage has changed, however: the same privacy that had once attracted writers and artists also appealed to psychotherapists, who began to locate there in the 1990s, transforming the street into what one psychologist called "therapy row". As of 2003, Patchin Place was home to about 35 residents and 15 therapists' offices.[3]

Notable residents[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. "NYCLPC Greenwich Village Historic District Designation Report, volume 1", NYCLPC (1969)
  2. ^ a b White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5. , p. 131
  3. ^ a b c Koeppel, David (2003). "A Bastion of Literature Is a Bulwark for Therapy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-24. [dead link]
  4. ^ Hemp, William H. (2003). New York Enclaves. New York: Clarkson Potter. p. 30. ISBN 1-4000-4735-8. 
  5. ^ Gray, Christopher (March 1, 1992). "Streetscapes: Readers' Questions; A J.P. Morgan Brownstone and a Hospital for Italians". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  6. ^ a b Vincent, Glyn (2003). The Unknown Night: The Genius and Madness of R. A. Blakelock, an American Painter. New York, NY: Grove Press. pp. 46–63. ISBN 0-8021-4064-5. 
  7. ^ Chapin, Anna Alice (2005). Greenwich Village. Project Gutenberg. 
  8. ^ a b c "Berenice Abbott: Patchin Place". Museum of the City of New York. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  9. ^ "Modern Progress in Patchin Place: Quaint Plot in New Hands After Family Ownership of One Hundred Years". The New York Times. May 2, 1920. pp. RE1. 
  10. ^ "Patchin Place, 1925". home page of SPRING: The Journal of the E. E. Cummings Society. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  11. ^ Powys, John Cowper. Letters to His Brother Llewellyn. Quoted in "4 Patchin Place". powys-lannion.net. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  12. ^ Field, Andrew (1985). Djuna: The Formidable Miss Barnes. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 230–231. ISBN 0-292-71546-3. 
  13. ^ Herring, Phillip (1995). Djuna: The Life and Work of Djuna Barnes. New York: Penguin Books. p. 309. ISBN 0-14-017842-2. 
  14. ^ Field, 22, 236.
  15. ^ Levine, Nancy J. (1993). "Works in Progress: the Uncollected Poetry of Barnes's Patchin Place Period". The Review of Contemporary Fiction 13 (3): 186–200. 
  16. ^ "Alleys of Greenwich Village". Forgotten NY. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  17. ^ a b "Old Patchin Place Loses Weidee, Its Guiding Hand". The New York Times. May 18, 1924. pp. X4. 
  18. ^ Bosworth, Patricia (2001). Marlon Brando. New York, N.Y: Viking. p. 14. ISBN 0-670-88236-4. 
  19. ^ a b c Seeger, Pete; Bruce Kayton (2003). Radical Walking Tours of New York City. New York: Seven Stories Press. pp. 34, 41–42. ISBN 1-58322-554-4. 
  20. ^ New York World-Telegram and The Sun, Jan. 4, 1962, p. 23. Patchin Pl.: Quiet Refuge for Writers
  21. ^ Hersey, Harold (1937). Pulpwood Editor. New York, NY: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 
  22. ^ "NEW YORK BOOKSHELF/NONFICTION; How Chinese Were Depicted, How Cummings Took His Tea". The New York Times. September 22, 2002. pp. section 14, page 10. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  23. ^ "4 Patchin Place". powys-lannion.net. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  24. ^ Keith, W. J. (December 2005). "John Cowper Powys's Autobiography: A Reader's Companion". Aids to the Reading of John Cowper Powys (powys-lannion.net). p. 84. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  25. ^ Walsh, Kevin (2006). Forgotten New York: Views of a Lost Metropolis. London: Collins. p. 157. ISBN 0-06-114502-5. 

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