Preservationists call for greater protection for LGBTQ sites
February 21, 2014
New York City preservationists are seeking further protections for Greenwich Village’s LGBTQ historical sites including the bar Julius’ and the Stonewall Inn.
Kurt Kelly, the owner of the Stonewall Inn, located on Christopher Street, said he is grateful for the efforts the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation and state Sen. Brad Hoylman have been making to obtain the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s status and make the Inn an official New York City historic landmark.
While Julius’ — on West 10th Street — has not been granted individual landmark status yet, it is still protected from demolition as part of the Greenwich Village Historic District.
In the past, other historic LGBTQ landmarks have been destroyed including a house on 186 Spring Street, in which prominent gay rights activists lived in.
“The value of these desired designations is that once bestowed, the buildings themselves cannot be compromised or demolished,” Kelly said.
GLS professor Joseph Portanova explained Stonewall’s significance in establishing gay rights as a legitimate social movement.
“During the 1960s the police and the city used the law that prevented ‘disorderly conduct’ as a means to get homosexuals off the streets and to ‘clean up’ the Village for tourists,” Portanova said.
Portanova said there were no laws protecting the GLBT community from discrimination during the time of the Stonewall Riots.
“[Stonewall] plays a symbolic role in GLBT history,” Portanova said. “The law at the time [of the riots] was such that you could not run a disorderly establishment, and if it served gays or lesbians, it was considered to be disorderly.”
The Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation is also seeking recognition and protection for Julius’ and the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse on Wooster Street.
Ashley Tomaszewski, LS freshman and former member of NYU’s First Year Queers and Allies, said NYU students should be concerned with the preservation of these historical sites as landmarks.
“I fully support the preservation of Stonewall and Julius’ as national landmarks, and this is a huge part of LGBTQ history and of civil rights,” Tomaszewski said. “These places have a huge cultural significance in New York.”
Ilana Ladis is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]