This week, we continue our series of deep dives into the histories of storied addresses.
315 East 10th Street. (New York Department of Taxes, Records for Block 404, Lot 48).
Elizabeth McCormick and Julia Gross likely never met. But, as students at the “well known” St. Brigid’s Academy at 315 East 10th Street, they both made the same walk between Avenues A and B to a rowhouse nestled in the center of the block. They would have looked up and seen the same quatrefoils leaflets visible today on the molding of the rusty-brown parapet and around the front door. Perhaps, like wistful students all across the city, the girls stared dreamily out of one of the nearly dozen windows overlooking Tompkins Square Park, half-listening to lessons on Dutch immigration to the city or how the land the school stood on was once a farm that Petrus Stuyvesant, the director-general of the Dutch West India Company, had owned.
Many townhouses on this block in Bedford-Stuyvesant look nearly identical—the same stairs lead up to clean, white stone facades and glass doors with black frames—so much so that, walking past, I wonder if the same contractor has recently remodeled them. But the house I’m heading for stands out. Past the rusting gate, there are mismatching chairs—including a repurposed and faded bike taxi seat—encircling a makeshift coffee table, and the slightly battered front door is secured with a keypad deadbolt.
The differences become even more apparent once inside. The hallway is narrow, with at least six bicycles leaning or hanging on the walls, along with containers overflowing with helmets and other gear. “These are the bikes we actually use,” Amy, one of the residents, tells me. In the backyard and basement, there are parts for more than 25 more. But this isn’t a bike shop: it’s Noyes, a housing collective where eight unrelated people live together in a means that differs radically from that of most others living in New York.