Description & Building Alterations
This brutalist style building was constructed in 1969 as the new church for the Emanuel Presbyterian Church and designed by architect Edgar Tafel.
The earliest known structure on this lot was a six story tenement built in 1898 at Nos. 739-741 for $45,000 to house 36 families by Simon Jacobs of 28 Rutgers Street. He too used architect Heurnbger & Straub for the building’s design, like many other developers of tenements on this block. Another building on the lot, a 5 story tenement at No. 723 was constructed prior to 1906.
Around 1965, four years after getting married, award-winning writers Samuel Delany and Marilyn Hacker moved into No. 739. Delany grew up in Harlem, at 2250 Seventh Ave above his father’s business, Levy & Delany Funeral Home, which appeared in stories by Langston Hughes and other Black writers chronicling Harlem in the 1940s and ’50s. Delany’s mother was a clerk in the New York Public Library system. His grandfather, Henry Beard Delany, was born into enslavement but became the first Black bishop of the Episcopal Church. His aunts were civil rights pioneers Sadie and Bessie Delany, and Delany used their adventures as a basis for characters in his semi-auto-biographical Atlantis: Model 1924. His aunt and uncle were Harlem Renaissance poet Clarissa Scott Delany and judge Hubert Thomas Delany.
Delany published his first novel at the age of 19 and has won numerous awards, including four Nebula Awards and a Hugo Award by the time he was 27. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2002 and in 2013, he was named the 31st Damon Knight Memorial Foundation Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Delany’s genre-spanning career includes over 40 published works, which showcase recurring themes of mythology, class, sexuality, position in society, and the ability to move from one social stratum to another.
Delany has identified as gay since adolescence, even though he was married to award-winning poet and professor Marilyn Hacker for almost twenty years. He was selected by the Lambda Literary Report as one of the 50 people who had done the most to change our view of gayness in the last half-century.
Tax photos from the 1930’s show a large gothic style church complex on this lot.
In 1969 permits were filed to demolish a one story brick church at No. 725-735 and a 5 story building at No. 737, both owned by the Emanuel Presbytery of New York City. An additional demolition permit was filed in 1971 for a five story tenement building at No. 723 owned by the City of New York.
Block : 376 / Lot : 044 / Building Date : 1969 / Original Owner : Emanuel Presbyterian Church / Original Use : Institutional / Original Architect : Edgar Tafel