Save Dorothy Parker’s childhood home

I’m a member of the Dorothy Parker Society, thanks to my undying love for DP’s poetry, short fiction and literary criticism. In the Society’s recent newsletter, founder Kevin C. Fitzpatrick urged members to join him in a letter-writing campaign to save one of the divine Ms. Parker’s childhood homes, which is currently slated for demolition. I took his request seriously, and sent a version of his own letter to the Preservation Committee in NYC asking them to take action.

Here’s what I wrote:

Community Board 7 – Preservation Committee
Lenore Norman and Gabrielle Palitz, Co-Chairpersons
250 West 87th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10024

Dear Ms. Norman and Ms. Palitz,

My letter concerns an agenda item from your Oct. 6, 2011, board meeting:

“214 West 72nd Street (Broadway.) Presentation to develop the premises with a new 12-story residential building with ground floor commercial use. The proposal would include demolition of an existing building with significant structural damage.”

I am writing to voice my opposition to demolishing 214 West 72nd Street for the following reasons:

As was noted in the meeting, the building was the turn of the century home of Dorothy Parker, the esteemed writer, critic and social activist. With the Upper West Side’s rich tradition of being the residence for so many authors, I would not like to see the destruction of a former residence of any writer who is so closely tied to the neighborhood. I support Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, the author of A Journey into Dorothy Parker’s New York and the president of the Dorothy Parker Society in his commitment to preserving this residence.

As Mr. Fitzpatrick has pointed out, while this was the childhood home of Parker, and not a building she wrote any of her prize-winning work in, it is still valuable to preserve. It was the girlhood home of the author that helped shape her writing and gave her material for many of her stories and poems. If anything, this residence is just as important as any of the buildings on the Upper West Side in which she composed her greatest literary works, and we cannot allow this residence to be torn down.

Earlier this year when Parker was inducted into the New York State Writer’s Hall of Fame in Albany, Mr. Fitzpatrick accepted the award on behalf of her literary society saying, “Dorothy Parker was a child of the Upper West Side and a true product of growing up in New York. She lived in the same neighborhood that was also home to Edgar Allan Poe and Saul Bellow. It’s an honor to have her in the hall of fame with so many other great New York authors, and to also represent her old neighborhood which helped make her who she was.”

I fully support the preservation of the 19th century character and charm of the Upper West Side. Already two corners of West 72nd and Broadway have been replaced with modern architecture; let’s not also lose this small place that was the girlhood home to one of the neighborhood’s greatest writers.

Please enter this letter into the record for the proposed demolition of 214 West 72nd Street.

Laura Roberts

Editor, Black Heart Magazine

If you’d like to use my letter as a template for your own, please feel free to do so. You can contact the community board via email at or by fax at 212-595-9317. If you love Dorothy Parker, add your voice to this campaign: send a letter and help us save her childhood home!