Friday, July 17, 2015

A change at 84 2nd Ave.


[Photo by Jill from 2009]

There has been some activity this week at 84 Second Ave. near East Fifth St. … a building that has intrigued many of us for years

First, before any history … on Monday, workers started replacing the long-empty storefront's front windows…


[Photo by Paul Kostabi]


[PK]

The first thought among 84 watchers: The storefront is being put to use again as a… storefront… there's nothing on file with the DOB to offer any hints… for now the work has stopped…


[Photo Wednesday by Derek Berg]

As for history.

In February 2009, a man who said that he lived and worked nearby for years told Jill the following about the building:

It used to be a place that sold tuxedos and formal wear. The family had several children, but one of them, a daughter, was raped and murdered in the top floor, possibly in the 1940's [note: it was actually 1974].

The killer was never found. The children (or one of them and a spouse?) still live there and refuse to renovate or change anything. The top floor is exactly the way it was when the daughter was murdered and you can still see the powder where the cops dusted for fingerprints. This man had been inside once and was witness to its originality. He said they have no intention of selling or changing or even of renting out the storefront.

The name of the family is Sopolsky.

This is from The New York Times, dated Jan. 18, 1974:

The nude body of a 40-year-old woman propietor of a tailor shop that rents tuxedos on the Lower East Side was found bludgeoned to death. The victim was Helen Sopolsky of 84 Second Avenue, near fifth Street, whose shop is one flight up at that address. The motive of the attack was not determined immediately...."

Here's more history of 84 via Lost City from February 2012:

It was a temporary home for women in 1884, open to "self-supporting homeless young women, with or without a child." Morris Kosturk, 40, was found dead there in 1921. And Aaron Schneider, who lived here in 1964, was the victim of a hit and run driver.

For years (decades?), you could see a plastic-covered dinner jacket in the second-story window with the neon sign that reads "DRESS SUITS TO HIRE."


[Photo by Jeremiah Moss]

More recently there was an ad for Jamie's now-closed check-cashing shop around the corner … as well as for a walker for $60.

Here's Jeremiah Moss writing about the building in July 2011:

We're all a little nervous about #84. There are those of us who watch it and wait, anxiously, for the day when it will be sold, when a multi-millionaire will turn it into a grand mansion, or the ground floor will be converted into a trendy farm-to-table restaurant, and all the mystery will be sucked away.

17 comments:

Ann said...

I disagree with Jeremiah. This is one time that I would welcome a change. Every time I pass the building, walking my kids home from school or rushing to work or a movie, I am struck by the thought that this poor family is trapped inside, entombed in the sad, horrible moment that has defined decades of their lives. Knowing that they'd been released from that sentence would be a relief. I don't think we'll forget the sad history, but we won't have to bear witness to its lingering effects.

Anonymous said...

A sad story connected to that place, very Lovecraft-ian and Poe-ish. I always think about them when I walk by.

Anonymous said...

While walking by here about 2 weeks ago, either on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and noticed the left-hand most window had been broken. Smashed glass everywhere. The owner was sitting out front, I assume waiting for the window guy to come.

NOTORIOUS said...

As someone who does psychological portraiture of spaces, I would do anything to photograph the interior of this building.

Anonymous said...

wish I had that neon sign

Anonymous said...

Never a big fan of Jeremiah Moss, and that comment from him is kind of awful. Hopefully the family can find some peace and move on, whether that means selling the building or not.

marjorie said...

I'm so glad Jeremiah took a photo of the mannequin and old sign. I'm annoyed at myself for never having done so. Great piece by Jill, too.

Goggla said...

I see the owner from time to time and worry that she's doing all right. There's so much pain associated with this building.

Anonymous said...

I had looked up the owner years ago and thought about calling them to see if they would consider doing some kind of art installation in the windows or something. Had no idea of the back-story. Thanks for sharing. This is so sad and I think they should move on. Townhouses can't be tombs, especially not in one of the businesses, most vibrant neighborhoods in NYC.

Anonymous said...

None of you seem to be aware of the Italian catering and grocery operation run out of the ground floor here for at least several years in the early '90s when Mission Cafe (late, lamented, still missed) was up and flourishing next door. I was inside numerous times and remember thinking how fly by night it all seemed for an NY food business.

Anonymous said...

Right around 1990 I was invited to a Mardi Gras Ball during my upcoming trip to New Orleans. Men must wear a Tuxedo. I did not have one, and the thought of renting one for a week seemed expensive. The person I worked for said I could buy an old one, "go knock on the door at 84 Second Avenue." I was told I should wait after doing so as it could take a while for someone to answer. I did just that but no one ever came to to the door. I have kept an eye on the place ever since. Thank you for the history of this time capsule.

Scuba Diva said...

I've occasionally spoken with the woman named Betty, when she's sitting outside; she's a nice lady.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the lady is nice and it is their property to do with or not as they choose. Would anyone even know about the tragic death if it was not for the building kept in stasis?

Jill said...

It's a lovely building and we keep losing those with character, or the character gets renovated out of them. Those little windows at the top are dreamy.

Anonymous said...

that bedsheets been around for a while...
http://lostnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/2012/02/east-village-bear-attack-of-1932.html

chris flash said...

A few years ago, I happened upon a crew removing debris from the ground floor store front. I got partly inside and saw what appeared to be an ancient abandoned photo shop....

Anonymous said...

The Betty everyone speaks about, is Betty Sopolsky. She seems to stop and talk to people when I read other comments on other blogs. When you google the address her full name appears. Another puzzle piece.