FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BRONX, NY – On December 15, the New York City Council approved 199 street co-naming measures, one of them to rename the intersection of Independence Avenue and Palisade Avenue to John McKelvey, Sr., Villa Rosa Bonheur, submitted by Council Member Eric Dinowitz.
The proposal was put forward by Stephanie Coggins, a community activist from Spuyten Duyvil. Her proposal brought overwhelming support from community-based organizations. The measure was voted on during Community Board 8’s Full Board Meeting on February 11, 2020 and April 22, 2020, passing both times unanimously.
John Jay McKelvey, Sr. (24 May 1863 – 19 October 1947) was an American author, attorney, and preservationist who set precedents in establishing the Harvard Law Review, as its first editor-in-chief, and in framing case law to craft the environs of his Spuyten Duyvil community, New York. He is also the builder of Villa Rosa Bonheur, which was located at 2395 Palisade Avenue.
Community activists tried to earn landmark status for the building in both 1998 and 2005, but were unsuccessful because of the owner’s objection. They tried again in 2005, but failed once again. The property was bought by Timber Equities in 2017, and then demolished two years later to make room for a new apartment complex.
“It is beyond unfortunate that our community lost a historic landmark that has contributed to our community’s character and has been a source of pride to our neighbors for decades,” Council Member Eric Dinowitz said. “John McKelvey, Sr. deserves to be honored for his determined vision to maintain the tranquility that our neighborhood and open spaces have to offer. I also want to thank Stephanie Coggins, who has been at the forefront of getting community-wide support for this co-naming.”
Chair of Community Board 8 Laura Spalter said, “It is an honor to pay homage to a great architect and preservationist, John Jay McKelvey Sr., who has done so much to add to the unique history and character of Spuyten Duyvil.”
Community Activist Stephanie Coggins said, “In spite of the tragic loss of this architectural gem, I see the street co-naming as a way to permanently honor the historical footprints of John J. McKelvey Sr. and Villa Rosa Bonheur to the Spuyten Duyvil/Riverdale community. I hope it will serve as a catalyst for future attempts to preserve our long legacy of important NYC history, because Villa Rosa Bonheur’s greatest contribution was waking us up to the existential crisis for the survival of the character of the place we call home.”