Greenwood Heights

Landmarking focus is sharply narrowed for Green-Wood Cemetery

February 23, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This chapel at Green-Wood Cemetery will be considered for landmarking; the entire cemetery will not. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
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Will Green-Wood Cemetery be landmarked?

The answer is no, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) decided on Tuesday at a special public meeting at its Lower Manhattan headquarters.

Instead, the preservation agency decided that three buildings on the graveyard’s grounds will remain on the LPC’s calendar on a “prioritized” basis for landmarks designation consideration in 2016.

They are the caretaker’s residence and visitors’ cottage — which cemetery officials refer to collectively as the gatehouse — at Green-Wood’s Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance plus a century-old Gothic-style chapel designed by Warren & Wetmore. The Fort Hamilton Parkway gatehouse buildings are Victorian Eclectic-style designs constructed around 1876.  

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The whole graveyard had been on the LPC’s calendar for landmarking consideration since 1981, when Ed Koch was mayor.

Green-Wood is a Backlog95 site. These 95 locations throughout the five boroughs were calendared for landmarks designation consideration for anywhere from five to 50 years ago. Six other sites are also in Brooklyn.

Tuesday’s meeting was an important step forward in the LPC’s effort to determine the fate of the Backlog95 properties.  

Green-Wood Cemetery officials have opposed landmark designation for the entire 478-acre Greenwood Heights graveyard since it first hit the LPC’s calendar three decades ago.

Green-Wood President Richard Moylan reiterated that opposition at a hearing the LPC held about Brooklyn’s Backlog95 properties this past October.

At that October hearing, renowned preservation advocate Otis Pearsall also testified against the landmarking of Green-Wood.

He explained that there would be legal difficulties if it were landmarked because the cemetery is divided into 46,000 lots that belong to 200,000 living owners.

There are no legal complications with the ownership of the gatehouse and chapel that are now being considered for landmarking. They belong to the cemetery.

Green-Wood is the final resting place for generation upon generation of the rich and famous, from abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher to telegraph inventor Samuel Morse to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. It is also a burial site for thousands of Civil War veterans, including General George Crockett Strong.

It attracts 250,000 visitors annually.

One structure on the cemetery grounds is already a city landmark: The Gothic Revival-style main gate, built in 1863, that faces Fifth Avenue.


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