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New York City grants landmark status to Stonewall Inn

A bartender wears one of the souvenir shirts that are offered for sale behind the bar at The Stonewall Inn, in New York's Greenwich Village.
A bartender wears one of the souvenir shirts that are offered for sale behind the bar at The Stonewall Inn, in New York’s Greenwich Village. Richard Drew, AP

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One of the buildings, at 51 Christopher St., is home to the current Stonewall Inn, which remains a key gathering place for gay New Yorkers. The brick and stucco facades of the two structures, originally built as stables in the 1840s, are essentially unchanged since 1969.

The Stonewall is not architecturally distinguished and would not earn landmark status on aesthetic grounds, several speakers noted.

“It ain’t a pretty piece of architecture,” said Michael Devonshire, a member of the commission. But he added: “This fantastic spot represents that period of strength and dignity for the LGBT community that absolutely deserves our designation and protection.”

The Stonewall was already part of the city-designated Greenwich Village Historic District, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. But speakers at the hearing said the individual city landmark designation was necessary to preserve the Stonewall and recognize its historic importance.

“It must be protected against rapacious developers who would destroy the history of this sacred place and all it represents,” public advocate Letitia James said.

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Last week, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that Chicago’s Henry Gerber House would also be designated a National Historic Landmark.

Built in 1885, the Henry Gerber House was the birthplace of The Society for Human Rights in 1924, becoming the first gay civil rights organization in the nation.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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