East Village Building Blocks

4 St. Mark’s Place | Block : 463 | Lot #11

  • Building Date : 1831
  • Original Use : Residential
  • Original Owner : Thomas E. Davis
  • Original Architect : Unknown

Description & Building Alterations

This three-and-a-half-story Federal style home, known as the Hamilton-Holly House, is one of the last surviving examples of this block’s original development. It was constructed in 1831 by speculative real estate developer Thomas E. Davis as part of a full-block development of genteel upper-class houses. Some of the house’s earliest occupants were Colonel Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, son and widow of the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. In the Bohemian heyday of the East Village in the 1950s and 1960s, this building was home to a number of Off-Off Broadway theaters including the Tempo Playhouse, Key Theater, New Bowery and the Bridge Theater.

While home to the Tempo Theater (established by Julie Bovasso in 1955), Gertrude Stein’s In a Garden and Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters were produced here. Tempo was recognized as the best experimental theater by The Village Voice. The New Bowery Theater made its home here in 1964 and showed early avant-garde  “underground” films with LGBT associations by the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, directed by Village Voice film critic Jonas Mekas. From 1965-66 the Bridge Theater was at this location and became a significant venue for downtown dance showcasing the talents of Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer. Meredith Monk, and Kenneth King. During this time, the Velvet Underground also performed here at the Bridge Theatre on February 13, 1966.

In 1965 Martin (Marty) Freedman opened the clothing boutique, Limbo, at 24 St. Mark’s Place and by 1967, the store was moved to this location. Merchandise ranged from used and embellished jeans to vintage suits, dresses, military uniforms, and Indian cotton and silks. It was the clothier to the New York City’s counterculture and was frequented by people such as Tommy Hilfiger, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, the New York Dolls, and members of the Velvet Underground. Limbo was here until 1975 when it was replaced by legendary punk rock outfitter Trash and Vaudeville. Trash & Vaudeville occupied the basement and expanded to the first floor as well. The retailer moved locations in 2016, no longer occupying this space. The building became a New York City Landmark in 2004.

The building retains its original marble lintels and distinctive Gibbs surround at the doorway and basement level, as well as its pitched roof with dormer windows. The building also showcases the original eight-foot frontage setback applied by Davis to every house on the street, which at the time of construction made the block much wider and more gracious than surrounding blocks.

Block : 463 / Lot : 11 / Building Date : 1831 / Original Owner : Thomas E. Davis / Original Use : Residential / Original Architect : Unknown

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