Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Developers of Underground Railroad Building Under Investigation

The Manhattan building at the center of the Draft Riots of 1863 and an important Underground Railroad station is being illegally modified. DNAinfo reports in Developers of Underground Railroad Building Under Investigation:

The Department of Buildings is investigating whether a developer is illegally continuing construction on a 150-year-old Chelsea row house that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The probe follows complaints by neighbors about ongoing work on a fifth floor addition to 339 West 29th St., also known as the Hopper-Gibbons House, which makes it taller than the buildings next door. That's significant to preservationists because former residents fleeing Civil War riots used the level roofs to escape.

"It feels like they are slicing away a piece of history with a serrated knife," said neighbor Fern Luskin, a CUNY art and architecture historian who said she had in recent weeks she repeatedly witnessed construction on the partially-built fifth floor. "It's very angering that this owner has not the slightest care in the world."