A guide to art in NYC, with families in mind.

Monday, May 2, 2011

goARCHkids: Mid-Century Convent on East 116th Street

Heading over to Costco on 116th Street this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to pass this beautiful little mid-century convent. I was particularly pleased by the carved marble treatment around the main portal. Simple, elegant, but playful, like polka dots. Though it was built in 1961, as evidenced by the date incorporated into one of the roundels flanking the door, the name and associations hark back to a time even before Spanish Harlem, when this neighborhood was all Italian. According to ephemeralnewyork.com, "in 1930, about 89,000 Italians of various regions lived in mostly crummy tenements from 96th Street to 125 Street East of Lexington Avenue." The main church, built in 1884, catered to that community and sponsors a large celebration on the day of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Now many of the masses are in Spanish. As with much of NYC, at this convent we see this great mingling of a range of cultural influences: historic Italian religious philosophy, mid-century modern architecture and contemporary Latino lifestyles. Not only a rich piece of architectural history, but a visually delightful one as well! Not bad for an errand to pick up a jumbo box of diapers!