Description & Building Alterations
This five-story Italianate-style brick tenement was built in 1872 by owner John Knopp. Designed by architect Theodore Beir, who also designed its neighbor at No. 50 East 1st Street, this pre-law tenement was built to house 22 families with two stores in the basement. These stores were removed sometime after 1962. The building’s facade features segmental-arched stone lintels, bracketed sills, and an Italianate doorway. There is also a projecting cornice with a rounded arch central piece.
The building is home to Ana Maria Simo, a playwright, essayist, and novelist. Born in Cuba and educated in France, Simo made important contributions as a lesbian activist. In 1976 in New York City, she founded the lesbian theater Medusa’s Revenge, the first lesbian theater in New York City, with actor and director Magaly Alabau. In 1992, she co-founded the Lesbian Avengers, a direct action group focused on issues vital to lesbian survival and visibility, in her apartment here at 52 E 1st Street, with longtime lesbian activists Maxine Wolfe, Anne-Christine d’Adesky, Sarah Schulman, Marie Honan, and Anne Maguire. The Lesbian Avengers inspired chapters all over the world, and one of its long-term accomplishments is the annual Dyke March in New York City.
Block : 443 / Lot : 051 / Building Date : 1872 / Original Owner : John Knopp / Original Use : Residential/Commercial / Original Architect : Theodore Beir