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Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide the fate of seven Brooklyn historic sites on Tuesday

February 22, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide whether seven Brooklyn historic sites including Green-Wood Cemetery should continue to be candidates for landmark designation. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Decision day is almost here.

Will Brooklyn’s famed Green-Wood Cemetery be turned into a city landmark? Or will the question, which has been hanging fire since 1981, finally be answered No?

And what about the 18th-Century (or maybe older) Gravesend home everybody calls Lady Moody’s House? Will it ever become a city landmark?

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will take a crucial step forward in determining the fate of seven Brooklyn historic sites, including these two, that it has long left in limbo.

The seven are on the preservation agency’s Backlog95 list. These 95 sites scattered throughout the five boroughs were calendared for landmarks designation consideration as long as a half-century ago — when John Lindsay was mayor — but never brought to a vote.

The commissioners will vote on the Brooklyn Seven, along with the 88 sites in the other boroughs. It promises to be a long day at the LPC’s Lower Manhattan headquarters.

Their vote on each property could go one of three ways.

They could vote to Prioritize for Designation. That means a date will be scheduled — presumably soon — to actually vote yes or no on landmarking the property.

They could vote No Action, which will remove the site from the designation calendar without their passing judgment on its merits. That means that in the future, the LPC could reconsider the property as a candidate for landmarking without prejudice.

They could vote Not to Designate, which will remove the property from the designation calendar with prejudice. That means they believe the property is not worthy of landmarking.


The seven sites

This is the full list of the Brooklyn Seven:

* Green-Wood Cemetery, founded in 1838, the eternal resting place of luminaries from composer Leonard Bernstein to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

* The farmhouse at 27 Gravesend Neck Road, built on land that belonged to Lady Deborah Moody, the 17th-Century founder of Gravesend

* The Art Moderne-style Coney Island Pumping Station at 2301 Neptune Ave.

* A rare Williamsburg cast-iron industrial building, 185-195 Broadway

* The Williamsburgh Trust Company building, which is now Holy Trinity Cathedral-Ukrainian Orthodox Church, at 177 S. Fifth St. in Williamsburg

* St. Barbara’s, a Baroque-style Catholic church at 138 Bleecker St. in Bushwick  

* St. Augustine’s, a Gothic Revival-style Catholic church and rectory at 49 Sterling Place in Park Slope


The practical consequences of landmarking

In late 2014, LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan decided to toss out the 95 backlogged applications for landmark status. She reversed course after backlash from preservationists — and this past fall, the LPC launched an intensive process to determine their fate.

This past October, the commission held public hearings about the seven backlogged Brooklyn sites.

City landmarking matters. It protects properties of historic or cultural and social significance from demolition.

By law, owners cannot alter the sites’ exteriors without the LPC’s permission. Occasionally, buildings are designated as interior landmarks, which means Hands Off their insides.

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