Preservationists and Greenwich Village community members are reporting that their efforts to stop NYU from demolishing the historic Provincetown Playhouse have paid off – to a certain extent. Andrew Berman, Executive Director of The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, tells us that NYU plans to preserve the facade and structural walls of the theater, but he says many issues remain unaddressed.
Founded in 1918 by Eugene O’Neill and other trailblazers, the Provincetown Playhouse was originally housed in a stable on the site; the MacDougal Street location is now acknowledged worldwide as the birthplace of Off Broadway, experimental theater. NYU reopened the theater in 1998 after years of disuse; their previous plan would have demolished the theater and erected a new building, which they want to use for the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.
The new proposal would redo the inside of the theater, while keeping the proportions and "integrating into the future plans relevant historical features" like the seats, which date back to the 1920s. The new building, slightly taller than the current structure, would be go up around it. While Berman agrees that this would be “a giant victory,” he insists that the “entire building is historically significant, and we would continue to argue that the whole thing should be saved.” The Villager, on the other hand, is mostly approving. Read a PDF of NYU's new pitch.