Historic Kelly Street property receives LPC repair grant

The NYC Landmark Preservation Commission selected a Bronx residence as one of its five recipients for a matching $35,000 grant for restorations.

The LPC announced on Thursday, January 16 a Neo-Renaissance-styled house at 736-34 Kelly Street in Longwood was selected to receive renovations through the Historic Preservation Grant Program.

The grant program assist low-to-moderate income homeowners and non-profit make much needed repairs to their properties.

“The LPC Historic Preservation Grant Program is a great resource that enables us to support homeowners and non-profit organizations,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Sarah Carroll. “I am thrilled that this year’s grant recipients, who represent all five boroughs, will get the funding they need to maintain their landmark buildings and bring pride of place to these communities.”

The grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

The property on Kelly Street falls under the non-profit category because the Roman brick twin family attached property is the location for Homes for the Homeless.

According to the LPC’s press release, the grant money will go towards restorative work to the building’s façade including repointing, repairing masonry and replacing doors.

Homes for the Homeless has been sheltering families and providing social services to those in need in Queens and the Bronx for over 40 years.

According to Managing director of Communications and Marketing of HFH, Linda Bazerjian, the non-profit has occupied the Kelly Street location since 1986. Bazerjian said the property was formerly a hospital.

Warren Dickinson, a turn-of-the-century architect, designed the building when the neighborhood was predominantly occupied by European Jews. It is mostly African American and Latin today.

According to Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan, Kelly Street, in particular, has housed some notable people throughout its early years.

A Yiddish writer by the pen name of Sholem Aleichem whose work inspired the musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is from the area. His funeral had the most mourners ever for the entire city at the time of his death in 1916, according to Ultan.

Other notables who lived on Kelly Street were Clifford Odets, a popular playwright in the 1920s and 30s and former U.S. National Security Advisor Colin Powell, who learned to speak Yiddish from his Jewish friends in the neighborhood.

However, the work done at 736-34 Kelly Street is more focused on civic work nowadays.

For Bazerjian, it is not so much about the historic structure, but the 88 families who are housed there at any given time with approximately 125 children who benefit from the after school programs offered there.

“We want to make it as comfortable as we can, especially for the children,” Bazerjian said. “We want them to feel like they’re not missing out.”

Bazerjian estimated around 3,000 families have been housed at the shelter.

To meet growing needs HFH expanded to other Kelly Street brownstones over the years.

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