Sunday, December 30, 2012

Several Eras End at One Lower East Side Building -

On the day after their wedding in May 1967, they spied a “For Rent” sign at 70 Hester, owned by Sarah Feifer, an old-fashioned leftist. “The only newspaper she read was The Daily Worker,” Mr. Nozkowski said. Harry Snyder ran a fabric store on the main floor, but the former sanctuary upstairs had been vacant since the factory closed, leaving a floor full of grommets. Yet Ms. Robins, who had grown up in an Orthodox Jewish family, said she discerned something “very genial and obviously special” about the place.

In exchange for a few months of rent-free tenancy, the couple spent about $3,000 and a lot of elbow grease to replace windows, upgrade electricity and add plumbing. (From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.) The space was certified habitable under the city’s artist-in-residence program.

Warm, it wasn’t. When the couple decided to have a child, they built a small bedroom so there would be one easily heated space in the loft, which had only a potbellied stove in early years. “We spent winter nights with a stolen shopping cart out looking for wood,” Mr. Nozkowski recalled.