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Original WTC to become home to South Street Seaport Museum.

Schermerhorn Row, the original World Trade Center and a storied cradle of the maritime industry, will be the home of the South Street Seaport Museum's new exhibition space. The 30,000 SF, $21 million facility will play an integral role in the planned redevelopment and revitalization of Lower Manhattan. It will open to the public in early October. Peter Neill, president of the South Street Seaport Museum, made the announcement of the project.

"This is more than a museum, this is history come alive," said Neill. "The commercial buildings represent the crossroads of the assimilation process for generations of immigrants, thus laying the foundation for the diversity of America which makes this country so great."

Schermerhorn Row features a block-long, landmark 1812 building that extends along Fulton Street from Front to South streets, as well as the 1850 A. A. Low Building which fronts on Burling Slip. The building has undergone extensive interior renovations and will be linked internally to house five floors of exhibition space comprising of some 24 separate galleries.

The renovations have been complicated because of the historic structures that are partially occupied by retail and residential tenants. Interestingly, most of the interiors have not been touched dating back prior to the Museum's founding in 1967.

The South Street Seaport Museum's exhibition space is emerging from the one-time offices, storerooms and backyards of Lower Manhattan. A few feet away from the Schermerhorn buildings, early American ships set sail for China on voyages that would give birth to the American economy. In keeping with the theme of "living history," the museum will offer the spectacular views of the harbor, as well as the smells of sea faring enterprise.

In a published report, NYU professor Thomas Bender stated that the area represented the "heart of a worldwide trading empire where it is fair to say that New York's economy was born." He added that the New York ports were "supplying 70 percent of the national income through import and export duties by the time of the Civil War."

Visitors can enter the museum's new through block lobby via 12 Fulton Street or 165 John Street. They will then take an escalator to the upper lobby, which reveals the rear walls of the original buildings. In addition, elevators and hoists have been preserved in these original nineteenth century commercial spaces.

Other visual gems in the hotel include an original laundry room and 156-year old graffiti, including a graffiti piece written in Gaelic, displaying the words of a popular revolutionary song as well as a caricature of the original owner, James P. Bennett.

Critical to the museum's renovation was the replacement of the original floors, which have rotted. Installation was challenging because the floors are uneven, due to the fact that Schermerhorn Row was originally built on ancient landfill in the East River.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 30, 2003
Words:472
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