One of the unique assets to living in Harlem is the historic architecture. Two well know brownstone districts host annual house tour, Mount Morris Park Historic District and Hamilton Heights. Would add reference for Hamilton Heights tour too, usually happens with a week of each other.
Presented by the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association, this annual tour gives a behind-the-scenes look at Harlem’s historic architecture and hidden gems. Choose to take a self-guided tour around the sites, or accompany one of the many Harlem historians to uncover Harlem’s secrets. Tickets can be purchased for $25 in advance or $30 the day of the event.
1. Tell us about the upcoming Mount Morris Park House Tour.
This is the Mt Morris Park 23rd Annual Neighborhood House Tour and it takes place Sunday, June 10th from 11 am - 4 pm. The tour starts at 18 Mt Morris Park West (122nd St & Fifth Ave) and features 8 homes and 2 churches that are open to the general public, as well as 3 extraordinary homes that are featured as an intimate private tour for a slightly increased price. The theme of this year’s tour is Character(s) Welcome!, celebrating the architectural character and design aesthetic associated with Harlem homes as well as the colorful, creative and vibrant personalities of the characters that comprise our community.
2. Are there any new sites or features on the tour this year?
We are featuring an Inside and Intimate tour of three homes that are unique and exquisite in very different ways. One of the homes is owned by documentary filmmaker, Albert Maysles, and was designed by architects Robert Cleverdon and Joseph Putzel in 1888. Another was formerly owned by retired NBA superstar Kareem Abdul Jabber, who completely rehabilitated and remodeled the home to include marble tiles, antique Art Nouveau doors and imported glass and fixtures from France and Italy.
3. Do you have a favorite aspect of the tour?
My favorite part of the tour is visiting the homeowners during the tour to chat about the day’s activities; they are usually beaming with pride after hearing people comment on their beautiful homes. As a homeowner, there is always something else to be done, something else to fix, so you’re never really satisfied that all is well. When you look at the awe on people’s faces, you get the feeling that you’ve accomplished a great deal, a feeling of satisfaction.
Yes, we are working diligently to extend the historical boundaries of the District. The Historic Districts Council voted us as one of “Six to Celebrate” neighborhoods in 2011 because of our elegant rowhouses and larger apartment buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Romanesque Revival, Neo-Greco and Queen Anne styles. The borders are being extended to include 118th St thru 124th Sts between Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, as well as a few houses between 119th and 12th Sts on Fifth Ave.
5. What other projects and events does the MMPCIA have planned for the summer?
After the House Tour (our largest fundraiser), we will partner with the 39th Annual Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic on Father’s Day, June 17th. We’re introducing the first artistic sculpture on Malcolm X Blvd and 124th St called The Pod, it was designed by artist team Montserrat Daubon and Pedro Villalta on Saturday, June 8th. We’re awarding a $4,000 Scholarship to a deserving young HS graduate on June, 15th. June 16th will be the opening of the Farmers Market on Lenox Ave and 122nd from 8am – 4 pm. And, our Member’s and Neighborhood Picnic in the Park will take place in Marcus Garvey Park on Thursday, June 19th from 6:30 – 8:30pm. We take the month of August off to recuperate!
6. Anything else you would like to add?
The MMPCIA House Tour is our largest and most important fundraiser, the proceeds are used to support our ongoing mission to revitalize, preserve and foster an environment of open and active participation in the greater Mt Morris Park neighborhood. If there’s one event not to be missed this year, it’s the MMPCIA House Tour, there’s a Character(s) waiting for you around every corner!