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14 Lynde Street
Salem MA 01970
978-744-0311

Abbott Academy

Russ & Daughters

179 East Houston St, New York, NY

During her years with the National Trust Community Partners Program, Lanie became involved in advocacy for a neighborhood known as the Lower East Side. The goal of Lanie’s advocacy was to nominate and list The Lower East Side neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places.

This dense neighborhood is where waves of immigrants from Europe began life in America. They lived and worked in the narrow tenements on Orchard Street, Grand Street, Delancey Street and Houston Street. Built of brick and quite uniform in scale with modest detail these houses teemed with new Americans.

Until the 1920’s, many families lived and worked in small garment businesses up and down the narrow streets. At that time, in order to combat overcrowding and sanitation issues, the City of New York adopted a new plumbing code. Rather than make the required investments in the buildings, most landlords “sealed off” the upper stories and made due with leasing space to commercial businesses at the ground floor only.

From 1920, the upper floors of the lower east side were locked away and unused until the mid 1990’s. A general partnership of interests including improved property tax treatment by the City of New York, the upgrading of city parks, and a community food market in the neighborhood made the Lower East Side into a place of interest. It was at this time that Lanie met preservation advocates at a conference at Cooper Union and enlisted the National Trust in the effort to list the neighborhood on the National Register.

Lanie attended many community meeting explaining to building owners the opportunities implicit in a National Register listing. One building owner was Mark Federman, owner of Russ & Daughters, purveyors of the highest quality smoked fish, caviar and specialty foods Russ & Daughters is New York’s premier appetizing shop. Since 1914, this New York institution has been run by four generations of the Russ family.

In learning more about preservation incentives, Mark hired Lanie to oversee the rehabilitation of the upper floors of his building, which like most tenements in the neighborhood had been “sealed off” in the l920’s. With Lanie’s help, Mr. Federman invested in his property, rehabilitating the existing apartments using the tax credit program. Interior character defining features were preserved, all new systems and life safety equipment were installed, and lead paint and other hazardous waste removed. Mr. Federman was one of the first Lower East Side building owners to invest in his building, which began a renewed interest in the neighborhood and a significant revival.

The Lower East Side has become a much more lively residential and commercial community now that the upper floors have been ‘unsealed” and buildings are being reborn as places to live and work. As for the Russ & Daughters the business --- “it occupies that rare and tiny place on the mountaintop reserved for those who are not just the oldest and the last… but also the best!” The tastes, traditions and old world class of this landmark shop are a true New York experience.

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