Owner sues to preserve penthouse atop Underground Railroad stop

March 28, 2013 01:30PM

The owner of the landmarked Hopper Gibbons House, a former stop on the Underground Railroad, has sued the city to retain a rooftop penthouse that the Department of Buildings ordered him to tear down, DNAinfo reported.

Tony Mamounas claims the historic significance of 339 West 29th Street is immaterial and is seeking to overturn a February decision from the Board of Standards and Appeals that put the property under the jurisdiction of the Landmarks Preservation Commission — a group that would likely force him to dismantle the addition, DNAinfo said.

Local residents and preservationists say Mamounas’ addition is illegal and have called for the property to stay in line with the rest of the block’s height.

As previously reported, the DOB had accidentally allowed construction of the addition in 2005. Mamounas was ordered to remove the penthouse in 2010, but has not yet followed through.

In February, Mamounas lost the BSA appeal to keep the structure.

“It’s the only extant Underground Railroad station in Manhattan,” Fern Luskin, an art and architectural history professor at LaGuardia Community College, told DNAinfo. “How could they possibly say that history doesn’t matter? That’s ridiculous, insane and insulting, really.”

The article does not include comment from Mamounas. [DNAinfo]Zachary Kussin