The news that one of Dorothy Parker’s childhood homes could be demolished (first reported by Leslie Albrecht) is now leading to a letter writing campaign. On Friday, the New York Times also wrote about the old house at 214 West 72nd Street. It’s been on the website since 1998. The owners of the building was to tear it down and put up a 12-story luxury apartment house in its place.
Today the letter writing starts. I just mailed the first one to Community Board 7, which is printed below. I’m asking all fans of Dorothy Parker to please join me in writing a letter. If you can’t write a letter, send an email.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this apartment house since I first found out that it may be demolished. I want it saved because it was once the home to Dorothy and her family, but also because it was the first Dorothy Parker address I ever went to. When I started this website in 1998, one of the reasons was because I lived on the same street as Parker. I resided for 13 years at 53 West 72nd (corner of Columbus) and Parker’s house was just west of Broadway. I could see it when I went to the subway. When I got the idea to launch the site, which begat the walking tours, which led to the DPS, it was because of this connection I had. I’ll be writing more about the fight to save this home in the coming weeks and months. This is just the first salvo. Here is my letter. Please feel free to write your own.
Community Board 7 – Preservation Committee
Lenore Norman and Gabrielle Palitz, Co-Chairpersons
250 West 87th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10024
Dear Ms. Norman and Ms. Palitz,
My letter concerns an agenda item from your Oct. 6, 2011, board meeting:
214 West 72nd Street (Broadway.) Presentation to develop the premises with a new 12-story residential building with ground floor commercial use. The proposal would include demolition of an existing building with significant structural damage.
I am writing to voice my opposition to demolishing 214 West 72nd Street for the following reasons.
As was noted in the meeting, the building was the turn of the century home of Dorothy Parker, the esteemed writer, critic and social activist. With the Upper West Side’s rich tradition of being the residence for so many authors, I would not like to see the destruction of a former residence of any writer who is so closely tied to our neighborhood. I am the author of A Journey into Dorothy Parker’s New York and the president of the Dorothy Parker Society. Parker lived in several apartment homes in the neighborhood in her lifetime; I would not want to see this one destroyed.
A point I would like to make to the committee on the former residence of Dorothy Parker. While true this was the childhood home of Parker, and not a building she wrote any of her prize-winning work in, it is still valuable to preserve. It was the girlhood homes of the author’s that helped shape her writing and gave her material for her stories and poems. I do not believe that since it was a childhood residence it is any less important that if it was an adult home; just as I do not believe that since she lived in a handful of buildings on the Upper West Side we can allow this one to be torn down.
Earlier this year when Parker was inducted into the New York State Writer’s Hall of Fame in Albany, I accepted the award on behalf of her literary society (Parker’s plaque is now in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel). In my remarks, I said, “Dorothy Parker was a child of the Upper West Side and a true product of growing up in New York. She lived in the same neighborhood that was also home to Edgar Allan Poe and Saul Bellow. It’s an honor to have her in the hall of fame with so many other great New York authors, and to also represent her old neighborhood which helped make who she was.”
I fully support the preservation of the 19th Century character and charm of the Upper West Side. Already two corners of West 72nd and Broadway have been replaced with modern architecture; let’s not also lose this small place that was the girlhood home to one of the neighborhood’s greatest writers.
Please enter this letter into the record for the proposed demolition of 214 West 72nd Street.
Kevin C. Fitzpatrick