Description & Building Alterations
No. 287 is the “sister” building of neighboring No. 285. These buildings are two highly intact Greek Revival row houses dating from 1837, built on land originally owned by the prominent Fish family. The only houses ever to stand on their lots, both have miraculously survived years of neighborhood change and exist today in excellent physical condition. The two buildings showcase pilasters rather than columns, as well as modest entryways. They retain original cap-molded lintels, transomed doorways, and iron stoop railings. By 1930 the homes were still occupied by multiple families but most were Jewish Austrians and Hungarians, reflecting the transformation of the neighborhood from Kleindeutschland to the Jewish Lower East Side.
GVSHP and the East Village Community Coalition submitted a Request for Evaluation (RFE) letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2010 in hopes that this building and its neighbor at no. 287 would be considered for landmark designation. This request was denied. To read the letter and learn much more about the history of both 285 and 287 East 3rd Street, please click on the link in the sidebar.
A current resident of the building submitted photos of the interior tile work at the floors of the parlor level entrance and the basement level entrance (see sidebar). At the parlor level is the Star of David and at the basement level the letters “M S.” In all likelihood, this refers to the owner identified in alteration permits at the beginning of the 20th century of the building, Max Schechter. This part of the Lower East Side was heavily Jewish at the beginning of the 20th century. Given that Jews were at the time not welcome to live everywhere, it was not uncommon for builders of tenements to place Stars of Davids in their buildings (sometimes on the façade, if it was a newly constructed building) to send the message that Jews were welcome there, especially since many did not speak English.
Block : 373 / Lot : 62 / Building Date : 1837 / Original Owner : Robert Malcolm / Original Use : Residential / Original Architect : Unknown