The executive committee of the Treadwell Farm Historic District Association recently wrote to the Archdiocese of New York expressing their concern and urging Cardinal Timothy Dolan not to accept preliminary recommendations by the Archdiocesan Advisory Group to merge or consolidate Our Lady of Peace with St. Vincent Ferrer. Click to Download Treadwell Letter
The Treadwell Farm Historic District is the oldest landmarked district on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, named for the family that farmed the land between 1815 and the 1860s. A residential neighborhood that includes two churches, the district is located on East 61st and 62nd Streets between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The original Italianate style row houses, built between 1868 and 1875, were four stories tall. Two six story tenement buildings, at 245 and 247 East 62nd Street, were built around 1899-1900 and are still the tallest buildings in the district. Adjacent to those buildings, stands the Catholic church, Our Lady of Peace. A walking guide of the neighborhood can be viewed on the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts website.
"Treadwell feels like a small town plunked down in the middle of a great city."
- Julie Ledoux
Since the Treadwell association's letter was sent to the archdiocese, we had an opportunity to interview Julie Ledoux, Vice-President of the Treadwell Farm Historic District Association, about the historic district, her neighborhood on 62nd Street, and her concerns about the future of the neighborhood and Our Lady of Peace as a parish church.
The Treadwell neighborhood is primarily residential, and starts about 100 feet from each corner. How would you describe your block? Why did you choose to live there?
Julie Ledoux: We chose to live in Treadwell Farm in part because we loved its residential feel. It is truly a wonderful neighborhood with a close knit community. We have a mix of residents, some who have lived here for 40 or 50 years, as well as newer families raising children. The family aspect of our two blocks is an important part of our neighborhood. There are wonderful Halloween festivities for the children. During the holidays, residents take part in caroling and an annual holiday party. Treadwell feels like a small town plunked down in the middle of a great city.
The Treadwell neighborhood was landmarked in 1967. It always had two churches among the residences. Why do you think they were built in the first place?
Julie Ledoux: The two churches on our blocks are an important part of our history as well as our present. They were clearly built for the residents of this area, as well as for people from other parts of New York City, where one can come and be part of a small community. These churches continue to reach out to the community both spiritually and emotionally: they are wonderful meeting places and, like our neighborhood, offer a small town feel that is good for the individual spirit.
What value added or enhancement do the churches bring to the neighborhood?
Julie Ledoux: The churches are a wonderful community resource and add architechtural interest as well. They are a piece of living history that New Yorkers can experience as our residents do each and every day.
What is your opinion of Our Lady of Peace church as your neighbor?
Julie Ledoux: Our Lady of Peace is a wonderful neighbor. We have all had a wonderful interaction with the clergy as well as its parishioners, many of whom live in the neighborhood.
What if the church were sold to a developer, and the church façade remained, but a 6 story brick building was integrated and built on that property to include residential units?
Julie Ledoux: I would be greatly concerned to hear that the church might be sold to a developer. It would be a sad loss to our community and I would be very reluctant to have such a project undertaken that could disrupt the character of our "small town" neighborhood.
Would such a structure be in keeping with the residential feel of the neighborhood? How do you think it would look aesthetically?
Julie Ledoux: My sense of a such a project, as might be envisioned in that scenario, could put the feel of the neighborhood at risk. A multi year construction would cause terrible congestion on a street that also functions as ingress to the FDR Drive. And it would exacerbate traffic issues relating to cars heading to the Queensborough Bridge, Second Avenue Subway construction, and water tunnel construction on 59th and 58th Streets - the latter two of which are multi year projects, and the first of which is a constant.
If the Archdiocese of New York had plans to sell the church, would the Treadwell Farm Historic District Association raise an objection?
Julie Ledoux: The Association would almost certainly raise objections if it determined that a proposed sale would place the character or quality of life of our neighborhood at risk.
To your knowledge, has the Treadwell Farm Historic District Association ever initiated an action to prevent changes to the neighborhood?
Julie Ledoux: The Association has taken decisive action in the past in many instances, including defending against commercial enterprise for which the neighborhood is not zoned, as well as infrastructure projects that would cause undue harm to existing homes and congestion, and as necessary to defeat or defend against a threat to our neighborhood. In part, the efforts of the association are evidenced in the nature of our neighborhood as it stands today.