Description & Building Alterations
A pair of twin five story buildings, 199 and 197 Second Avenue were built in 1878 as French Flats designed by William Jose. The buildings each had one flat per floor, for a total of four families in each building. This class of buildings were some of the earliest types of middle-class apartment housing seen in New York City and unlike tenements, they were marketed to and attracted a wealthier clientele.
Little now remains of the original detailing of this building other than the metal cornice. The brownstone facade, which has been stuccoed and painted, would have once had projecting window lintels and sills and a projecting entry surround atop a raised-stoop. The stoop was removed in 1915 and commercial space was put into the new first floor.
From 1941 until 2008 the first floor was home to Jade Mountain, a Chinese restaurant that was a hallmark of the East Village. It was here that singer, songwriter, and civil rights activist Pete Seeger held his first gig, at a lunch for refugees of the Spanish Civil War, in 1941.
Block : 468 / Lot : 039 / Building Date : 1878 / Original Owner : Jacob Schmitt / Original Use : Residential / Original Architect : William Jose