The Preservation and Design Committee (P&D) is committed to preserving and protecting the historic low-scale residential character of Murray Hill with its contiguous brownstone rows, handsome town houses and converted carriage houses in a variety of architectural styles. The survival of the
residential character of Murray Hill is not an accident. It is an
affirmation of the sense of responsibility of those in the community – who, for over one hundred and fifty years – have sought to preserve its very special sense of place. That effort began in 1847 with the Murray Hill Restriction -- a covenant written into property deeds -- requiring owners to build their dwellings of brick or stone -- allowing for the construction of carriage houses and churches – but, specifically banning commercial establishments.
Over the years, residents of Murray Hill have sought to preserve the character of the neighborhood, advocating successfully for zoning regulating the height of mid-block buildings and defeating a city proposal to widen 35th and 36th Streets, which would have destroyed the stoops of row houses on those blocks and resulted in increased traffic congestion.
After a decades-long campaign – overwhelmingly supported by Murray Hill residents, elected officials, Community Board 6 and civic and preservation organizations – the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated the Murray Hill Historic District in January, 2002. The boundaries of the district ran in an irregular configuration from East 35th Street to East 38th Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues. There are many individual landmark buildings outside the Historic District.
Following Historic District landmark designation, P & D worked tirelessly on two successful campaigns to extend recognition and protection to sections that were not included in the historic district. In October, 2003 a larger area, extending to East 39th Street and including the east side of Park Avenue, was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. In March, 2004 LPC designated the Murray Hill Historic District Extensions, including a portion of the south side of East 36th Street and three properties on the southeast corner of East 37th Street and Lexington Avenue that had been omitted from the original historic district. After achieving landmark designation for the historic core of Murray Hill, P & D continues to monitor the historic district for violations and works with owners to maintain their properties in accordance with preservation guidelines.
P & D reaches out to the community in a variety of ways through print, walking tours and activities. Articles on preservation and the activities
of the committee frequently appear in the MHNA Newsletter. A booth at
MHNA’s annual Street Festival distributes literature, sells note cards, videos and prints and sponsors popular walking tours by resident architect Minor Bishop. For the past fifteen years P & D has presented Architectural, Preservation and Design Awards, honoring Murray Hill property owners for outstanding exterior restoration, renovation or design of their homes or businesses. P & D has sponsored a Garden Tour, House Tour and Walking Tour, exploring some of the hidden private spaces in the neighborhood. Notices of all P & D events will be posted on the MHNA website.
The Murray Hill Restriction, signed in 1847, restricts to this day development in Murray Hill. Click here to read the original Murray Hill Restriction.