Peridance Center

Art & Culture | History

A Building with History - Dance, Famous Artists, WWII Activities and Horses, lots of Horses

Peridance Capizio Center building east village

About Peridance Center

 & why it made the Carpe City list

In 1903 this building was constructed to the designs of Jardine, Kent & Jardine in the Beaux-Arts Style. On the National Register of Historic Places, this was initially created as the “Van Tassell and Kearney Horse Auction Mart.” At the time, it catered to New York’s elite families, including the Vanderbilts and Delanos.

According to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report, each Tuesday and Friday, Van Tassell & Kearney held auctions in the building. Though “carriages” remained a meaningful part of the business, most advertisements and newspaper stories about the Mart concerned the sale of horses. They focused on high-priced ribbon winners, polo ponies, hunters, and thoroughbreds. Other dealings were devoted to breeding stock and coach horses, including a large group of horses co-owned by Alfred W. Vanderbilt and Robert L. Gerry in 1906. This is the last horse auction market building left standing in New York City.

As automobiles and other forms of public transit became much more common after World War I, the practical need for horses and stables decreased. The auction mart ceased functioning out of the 13th Street building, but new uses appeared. It served as an assembly-line training center for women during World War II.

From 1978 to 2005, artist Frank Stella, one of the most respected artists of the post-World War II period, owned the building and used it as his studio. His nearly 30-year stewardship of the building resulted in the facade being cleaned and restored.

After discovering plans for a new owner to demolish the building and replace it with a condo development, in 2006, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) asked the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold an emergency hearing on the structure. There was significant support for the designation, including City Councilmember Rosie Mendez.

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing and halted demolition plans but did not immediately designate the building. On November 29, 2007, the building was listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. GVSHP and other advocates continued to push for designation. In May 2012, after a 6-year campaign, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate the former Van Tassell & Kearney Horse Auction Mart as an official City landmark.

Finally, in January 2010, the building went through an extensive renovation. Kohn Architecture retained the historic façade and truss shed roof and removed the entire interior structure. A 5000 sq ft cellar was excavated, and 5 adjoining buildings were underpinned. A new 17,000 sq. ft. space was constructed: “The Peridance Center.” They created 6 large, professionally equipped studios featuring high ceilings, column-free space, sprung floors, and sound systems. It also features a state-of-the-art theater, men’s and women’s locker rooms, a coffee shop, and a Capezio dance store.

Rooted in the Union Square area, in the heart of New York City, The Center has been home to all styles and levels of dance for more than 35 years. Founded in 1983, Peridance partnered with Capezio/Ballet Makers Inc. to form Peridance Capezio Center in 2007 at its current location. They still provide a broad spectrum of 250+ accessible weekly adult and children’s dance classes in a nurturing, professional environment. They prepare dancers for the continually evolving, international dance arena through Peridance’s world-renowned Faculty/Guest Artist/Master Teachers, International Student Program, Two-year Certificate Program, and The School at Peridance. The Center is also home to the acclaimed “Peridance Contemporary Dance Company.”

Carpe City Trivia

Fun facts:

As part of the campaign to secure landmark designation for the building, the GVSHP played on the history of the building as an assembly line training center for women during World War II. They reimagined the iconic "We Can Do It!" image (often associated with Rosie the Riveter.) The slogan was adapted on stickers, flyers, and t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "We Can Save It! Landmark 128 East 13th Street."

By: Laureen Mocsari

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