The LIM College community has known it for close to five decades, and now New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has made it official. Our flagship townhouse at 12 East 53rd Street, (known in Landmarks Preservation Commission records as the Fisk-Harkness House), was granted landmark status during a hearing at the end of June.
“The Townhouse,” which underwent a significant renovation in 2007, is the centerpiece of our Midtown Manhattan campus and currently houses state-of-the-art classrooms, computer labs, offices, and faculty and student lounges. Since being purchased by the College in 1964, it has held a special place in the hearts and minds of the thousands of dedicated students, alumni, faculty and staff who comprise the LIM College community.
The structure was built in 1871 and is a rare survivor of the period when the area around Fifth Avenue in Midtown was home to Manhattan’s wealthiest citizens. In 1906 architect Raleigh C. Gildersleeve, who also designed buildings for Princeton University’s campus, transformed the Townhouse into a grand, five-story American Basement-plan house with an asymmetrical neo-Tudor Gothic style limestone façade. At this time, it was owned by Harvey E. Fisk, a prominent investment banker.
In 1909 Fisk sold the building to Standard Oil heir William L. Harkness. It later housed the Automobile Club of America, and in 1938 art and antiques dealers Symons Galleries leased the building – during which time apartments were constructed on the top floors. An advertising agency eventually took over the ground-floor commercial space in 1949.
In an architectural sense, the Townhouse is the jewel in our crown. We now look forward to continuing to work with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to preserve this special building for future generations of LIM College students and the people of New York City.