857 RIVERSIDE DRIVE
The Dennis Harris &
John Newhouse Home
BY JOSEPH V. AMODIO
"Nestled on a diagonal plot along a narrow, curving stretch of Riverside Drive lies a two-story wood-frame house built in 1851, once owned by Dennis Harris, a hero of the Underground Railroad, and Judge John Newhouse, his friend and colleague.
Both men were ardent abolitionists, civic-minded entrepreneurs, and pivotal figures in the growth of Washington Heights.
Sites related to abolitionists and the Underground Railroad are rare in New York City.
This Greek Revival–Italianate house is arguably the only one known to survive north of 96th Street in Manhattan.
Harris was a leading activist in the fight for racial justice and an ally of suffragists, befriending such luminaries as Elizabeth Blackwell and Lucy Stone.
Together, he and Newhouse enriched the life of the nearby Audubon Park and Carmansville neighborhoods, exerting an impact on the economic, social and spiritual life of the area that was both significant and historic."
(The above excerpt is from Joseph V. Amodio's, Request for Evaluation)
Upon learning that the new owner of 857 Riverside Drive applied for a demolition permit to demolish the rare mid-19th century house and replace it with a 13-story apartment tower, the Upper Riverside Residents Alliance, along with Manhattan Community Board 12, elected officials, a coalition of civic and preservation groups and concerned individuals are committed to saving this historic Structure, preserving its history and protecting its future as a New York City Landmark.
The pages of this website tell the full story.
857 Riverside Drive as it appeared in Berenice Abbot's iconic 1937 photograph
857 Riverside Drive as it appears today, retaining many aspects of its original form and structure
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Print and Post Flyer
Click on the "PDF" icon to access and download this flyer.
Print it. Post it. Distribute it to your neighbors.
Read this Report
"One might not expect wooden stylistic elements as delicate and susceptible to change and deterioration as the scrollwork of the porch, the cupola, or even original windows to remain, and we must consider the historic significance of the building and it’s context; one of very few pre-civil war residences in a neighborhood that has undergone rapid and constant change since 1851."
Click on the "PDF" icon to access and download this report.
Cleanup at 857 Riverside Drive
“We noticed that the house was getting a little rough around the edges, particularly as the ownership dispute drags on, so I was able to hire a couple of men from the neighborhood to help clear a lot of the debris from the porches and the front and back yards.
The NYC Sanitation Department also agreed to pick up the debris free of charge.
We’re working with Mr. Wright to keep the house as attractive as we can until we are able to restore it.”
– Peter Green, A founder of Save Riverside
“It was a pleasure to see the 857 Riverside Drive House (Abolitionist House) yard clear of litter and garbage and so beautifully clean.
Many thanks to you and your crew of diligent workers.
Maybe the powers that be will view the house in a different light and agree to restore the house and this important piece of history to its rightful place in our community.”
– A. Lenora Taitt-Magubane