Before 190 Bowery, the world’s most handsome graffiti mural, is converted into something really depressing, you can go inside the bank-turned-home during the opening reception for an art exhibit this weekend.
On Saturday from 5-8 p.m., tour the stately corner building at Bowery and Spring streets, which has stood defiant amid the gentrification surrounding it since its construction in the late 1800s. Owned by photographer and artist Jay Maisel and his family since 1966, when he bought the building that was then Germania Bank for $102,000, it was sold last year for $55 million to developer Aby Rosen.
For the five decades that the Maisel family lived at 190 Bowery, the 72-room building didn’t change much. A 2008 New York Magazine profile of the home — and how many houses can say that? — described it as “like a dream world, or a benign version of the vast hotel in The Shining.” The Maisels mostly used the upper floors while the downstairs served as studio space (with the ground floor occasionally turning into a makeshift basketball court). Yes, the house really was a real-life version of “Big.”
Since the family moved out in February, the wood panels covering the downstairs windows have been removed, taking with them a significant chunk of the graffiti and posters that tend to gather on anything that stands still in this city. But the interior is apparently filming location material, though it’s been at least partially gutted.
But its fate may not turn out like LIC’s graffiti mecca 5 Pointz. The redevelopment plan, which will add an entrace, bring safety systems up to code and restore certain features of the facade, was hailed as “very sensitive” by a member of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Little else of the exterior is expected to change, including leaving most of the remaining graffiti.
As a preview, Animal New York got inside back in March and took photos and video of the building when crews were just starting work. Then, check out Curbed NY’s inventory of what’s left of the Bowery’s past.