From the Department of Lost Literary Landmarks …
Bowery Boogie continues to report on the dramatic demolition of the historic Provincetown Playhouse. The site looks like an ancient ruin, and as BB notes, it’s hard to pick out what’s left among the rubble:
It’s hard to know what to think about this situation. Apparently the facade of the first floor and the four interior walls of the original theater are the only thing to remain in the new structure, which from the outside will look much like the old building, with the addition of lots of south-facing windows and a penthouse situated on a sizable set-back. You’ve got to admit that occupants of south-side rooms will be happy for a little sunlight, but then again, there’s a clear pattern of disregard for community sentiment that’s no secret to folks in or out of the institution I work for, and plenty of people inside and out are unhappy about that fact.
CB2 helped get the concession from NYU to scale back the size of the new building and keep parts of the original structure. Landmarks had determined that the building had been altered too significantly in the last half century or so for the building to warrant historic preservation. It’s true that the post-1940s renovation of the building was pretty horrendous: I always found it kind of sad that Off-Broadway’s birthplace looked like a cheaply erected post-War elementary school. But I’m also not sure that token gestures toward preservation — keeping parts of a facade and a few lousy bricks here and there — are much better than wholescale redevelopment. (Actually, I take it back: I think the Poe House [right] is probably better than no house.)
I’m less equivocal about the loss of Frank O’Hara’s longtime residence at 791 Broadway and the apparent lack out outcry on its behalf. Jeremiah brought it to my attention, and I don’t really know of anyone else who’s even bothered to notice its imminent doom.