Tag Archives: Architecture

GVSHP Village House Tour Benefit – May 1, 2011

This Sunday is Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s 13th Annual House Tour Benefit and it will offer exceptional access into seven of the Village’s finest and most exclusive homes.

This year’s tour highlights include a stately Italianate home with an elaborately-paneled entrance and intricate, original moldings; an artist’s townhouse and studio with an unexpected layout and surprising hidden features, including a backyard treehouse; a 350-square foot apartment with anything but a small sense of style accessed by a splendid shared courtyard; an art collector’s two-floor retreat featuring a life-sized mosaic tile tree; an extra-wide townhouse with Victorian-era details, once the home of Emily Post; and a traditional townhouse featuring a restored stoop and façade and an interior rich with period detail, some salvaged from other Village residences.

Advance tickets may be purchased online before April 30 and will be available for pick up on May 1st after 12:30 pm at Greenwich House Music School. The tour is completely self-guided, rain or shine, from 1 – 5:30 pm, and a cocktail reception will follow the tour at a private townhouse in the neighborhood atop a stunning roof deck.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in The Village and support a very worthy cause while you’re at it. GVSHP is at the forefront of the fight to protect still un-designated portions of Greenwich Village and a leader against NYU’s massive 2031 expansion plan. While NYU seems determined to take over the Village for their megolithic purposes, GVSHP is thankfully one of the only organizations to continuously hold NYU accountable for the promises they’ve made to the neighborhood, and serve as community watchdog to make sure the university responsibly rehabs its existing properties. They are invested in the push to move NYU’s future expansion plans to the Financial District, so that the spirit and integrity of Greenwich Village may be preserved for future generations. Be sure to take a look at their website to see the all myraid community causes they’re involved in, and if these issues speak to you as well, please buy a tour ticket in support or make a donation. Every little bit helps!


The weather promises to be lovely (fingers crossed), so if you’re interested in making a whole weekend of it, consider also attending the OHNY and Fourth Arts Block (FAB) Tour of East 4th Street on 
Saturday, April 30 at 1pm.

FAB is rooted in the Lower East Side’s long history of hosting community and cultural spaces that served marginalized immigrants, artists, and activists. In the 1960s and ‘70s, East 4th Street coalesced as a center for experimental theater and film. Four decades later, the block’s cultural groups founded FAB to preserve and develop these historic arts spaces.

The tour grants you access to many of the East 4th Street theaters, promoting an opportunity for discussion and awareness of how FAB weaves the arts with neighboring small businesses to strengthen a distinctive East Village cultural and community identity. To buy tickets, click here.


*Sidenote: The fact that I’m mentioning any of this at all, makes it official. I’m turning into my mother.

I jest, but seriously, I’m such a preservation/architecture/design nerd in my own right that GVSHP made me a docent captain for their House Tour Benefit this year. I’ve volunteered as a docent for the last 3 years running and it’s definitely one of the events I most look forward to every spring. I’m a freelance artist, and tickets aren’t cheap, so volunteering my time is an ideal way to participate. I love meandering through the Village with a map, exploring those yet undiscovered nooks and crannies of my neighborhood, and gaining unprecendented access to the crème de la crème of NYC residences. It is a rare treat to actually enter these homes that I walk by every day, and oogle the impeccable design, art collections, and impressive restorations. The tour always inspires to me to dream big about what I’ll create in my own future West Village rowhouse and secret garden (after I make my first couple of millions!) I also meet the nicest people every year and really look forward to the fascinating conversations I have with other die-hard Village lovers who are always chock full of interesting lore about these buildings and the illustrious residents who’ve inhabited them in the past.

You must understand that I find this passion of mine more than a little ironic because as a child, I was constantly dragged, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to many a home and urban walking tour by my mother, Christy Johnson McAvoy, an esteemed historic preservation and architectural consultant in Los Angeles. She’s one of the founding members of Hollywood Heritage, multi-term President of the Los Angeles Conservancy and the California Preservation Foundation, among other notable credits.

I was affectionately known in these circles as “the preservation kid” growing up, undoubtedly attending more tours and conferences than many of the adult members of these organizations. I developed a well-earned reputation for being that incredibly well-behaved child who sat quietly in the corner entertaining myself with coloring books during Hollywood Heritage board meetings at Wattles Mansion. And I was probably one of the only people under the age of 30 to witness Cecil B. DeMille’s Barn crawl slowly through the streets of Hollywood on a flatbed truck in the wee hours of the morning as it made it’s 1983 pilgrimage from it’s original location (where it was in danger of succombing to the wrecking ball), to it’s now permanent resting place in the parking lot across from the Hollywood Bowl on Highland Avenue. When my Mom worked on the city surveys of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, I’d accompany her as she drove every block, and call out each home’s architectural style from the back seat, like it was a fun game. “Colonial Revival! Tudor! Craftsman!”

It was clear to me as a young girl, people in the preservation community admired my mother tremendously. She was extremely beloved and a singular wealth of knowledge on topic of historic preservation. Everyone wanted her involvement and advice. She was leagues ahead of her time, crafting her own niche and starting up her own consulting business, in a relatively unpopular field by Los Angeles standards. She was, and remains to this day, a human encyclopedia of architectural information, with a mind-boggling personal library and memorabilia archive to boot, that is virtually impossible to rival.

And while I recollect that it was sometimes fun to check out an infinite array of exclusive Hollywood landmarks and feel privy to rather sophicated circles at such a young age, I also remember wanting to just stay home and play with my toys, and thinking that other kid’s parents didn’t do this weird kind of stuff on the weekends. (“Awww, Mom. Can we go now?”)

As proud as I am of my mother, it became important to me to chart a different course and pursue my own interests as a grew older. Being the Hollywood chick that I am, it seemed a natural path to explore acting and filmmaking. I had an talent agent in my teens, and attended UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film, and TV, though I never quite felt 100% comfortable in front of the camera. As I realized I was more suited to creating behind the lens, I attended Art Center College of Design and majored in Film Directing.

Despite my best laid plans though, my mother’s passion for preservation and architecture did in fact rub off on me, and when presented with the opportunity to photograph a series of landmark buildings for the National Register of Historic Places and CA State Office of Historic Preservation after I graduated from film school, I was happy to oblige. I justified this because A) I needed the work and B) “it was more about photography than architecture”. Surprisingly, I found myself quite enjoying the work of photo documenting historic preservation and rehabilitation projects, and over the course of the next decade, I ended up photographing over 60 historic building projects in Los Angeles and California. (Read more “backstory” here)

So, I have to chuckle a little at myself now, when I attend these type of events – of my own volition and with great enthusiasm. Now that I live here in New York City, it’s actually become a way for me to stay connected to my mother and continue sharing our mutual passions. It’s impossible for me not to think of her during the GVHSP tour and I always end up calling her afterwards and sharing every little detail. I have great hope she’ll make it out one spring and join me for the tour. That will be one full circle moment, to be sure.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll think about taking your son or daughter on the tour with you! They might protest, want to touch stuff, and intermittenly act bored, but you might just plant a seed about the value of preserving the places of the past, for the future kids of Greenwich Village, and that IS actually pretty cool…

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you!


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Eye For Style Recommends: GVSHP’s 2010 House Tour Benefit

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
2010 House Tour Benefit
May 2, 2010, 1 to 5:30 pm

As an architecture and design lover, this is one of my favorite yearly events. It’s a rare treat to actually be able to go inside some of the fabulous homes I walk by all the time and get a glimpse of how a select few are living in high style and comfort. I find it to be a fun way check out incredible art collections, spectacularly quiet gardens, and some of the finest interior decorating in the city. Not to mention, get inspired about how I’ll someday decorate my own lovingly restored, multi-level rowhouse (when I finally “make it” in this town). One can always dream!

The tour makes for one of the loveliest Sunday spring outings available to New Yorkers, and GVSHP is a really worthy organization to support. I’ve been a docent on the tour two years running now and I can’t think of a group I’d rather volunteer my time for. I always meet terrific people, who are passionate about the architecture and history of this beloved neighborhood, and always willing to share stories of past residents’ adventures in the Village. Be sure to support this critical organization’s efforts, so they can keep fighting the good fight and protect the Village’s most important historic resources for future generations.

Here’s what they say about this year’s tour:

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation works to protect the cultural and architectural heritage of Greenwich Village, NoHo, and the East Village. Now in its thirtieth year, GVSHP has secured unprecedented achievements for our communities through advocacy, education, and documentation. Offering a rare glimpse into six of Greenwich Village’s finest and most exclusive townhouses, the Twelfth Annual Village House Tour Benefit is held to raise funds in support of GVSHP’s work to educate about and advocate for the distinctive character and irreplaceable architecture of our neighborhoods. This year’s tour features the spectacular residences of:

Clyde & Summer Anderson, Charles Street
You’ll find a surprising and ingenious solution in a small bathroom in this Italianate home with a restored stoop and a glass façade leading into a backyard terrace and garden.

Clora Kelly & Helge Skibeli, West 11th Street
A townhouse formerly owned by St. Vincent’s hospital with a fun, funky, and colorful interior.

Paul & Christine Smith, Commerce Street
This tiny home in the Commerce Street cul-de-sac has returned to its original stoop and brick façade after many years under stucco.

Jane and Richard Stewart, Charles Street
A townhouse designed in the French Second Empire style on what was once known as Van Nest Place.

Lawrence and Alice Weiner, West 4th Street
A former stable and bakery building, this home features a redesigned modern façade and the artist-owner’s pieces on the interior.

Jeffrey Weingarten & Belinda Broido, West 11th Street
Cuban art is a feature of this classic Greek Revival townhouse with many historic details updated for modern life.

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My intention for this blog

Firstly, I’m a photographer/stylist, specializing in architecture and interiors. I love historic buildings, eclectic décor & modern design. I’m also an art, music, and food lover. I revel in all things that create “culture” – experiencing and documenting it, both locally and in my world travels, through the medium of photography and the written word.

It’s also worth noting that, without fail, no matter where I am, people always ask me for recommendations. If I’m on vacation, I’m often mistaken for a local and asked my opinion about where to go for fun activiities, amazing food, picturesque photo opts, etc. Perhaps it’s because I love to do research about the places I visit beforehand, so that by the time I get there, I’m already an “expert” of sorts. I much prefer to go “incognito”, doing as the locals do instead of hitting up tourist destinations. Doing my homework ahead of time, enables me to venture further off the beaten path, deepen the quality of my travels, and maximize my time in a destination.

And when I discover something that I absolutely love, I always want to turn other savvy folks onto it too. I really delight in sharing suggestions about my favorite places and it fills me with joy when people report back and tell me what a great experience they had based on my tips. So, I’m currently combining all of my interests: photography & digital cartography, style & design, food & art + lists & maps, musings & recommendations = my photo website and wordpress blog, which I happily share with all of YOU, the people who love this stuff as much as I do!

Welcome to my EYE FOR STYLE BLOG!

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Some backstory:

I’m Carly Caryn, a photographer and stylist, based out of my two favorite historic neighborhoods, New York City’s Greenwich Village and the Hollywood Knolls in Los Angeles, CA.

I’m a rare breed of Hollywood, California native whose love of architecture first began at the age of five, though I didn’t know it yet. My mother would drag me along on the historic walking tours of Los Angeles that she lead in the early 1980’s. I was known affectionately as “the preservation kid”, and grew up attending open house tours, boarding meetings, and community outreach events sponsored by organizations such as Hollywood Heritage, The Los Angeles Conservancy, California Preservation Foundation, and National Trust for Historic Preservation. Despite my perceived adolescent boredom with these subjects at the time, something resonated deep within…

I went on to attend UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film, and TV and later, Art Center College of Design, where I graduated with a BFA in Film, a music video reel, and delusions of grandeur about becoming the next hot MV director, a la Spike Jonze. Shortly thereafter, Historic Resources Group, one of LA’s top architectural and historic preservation firms, offered me the opportunity to photograph the Hall of Justice in Downtown Los Angeles for its CA State Office of Historic Preservation Tax Credit application.

One photography assignment lead to another, and over the last 10 years, I’ve since become a fairly accomplished architectural photographer, working on over 60 high profile renovation and rehabilitation projects with such notable credits as: The Standard Hotel, SoCal Institute of Architecture (SCIARC), Yamashiro Restaurant, 4 major Hollywood Studios, and over a dozen historic loft buildings in the newly redeveloped Artist & Old Bank Districts of Downtown LA, in addition to many exclusive residences designed by such esteemed architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner, RM Schindler, Ray Kappe, Charles and Ray Eames. Needless to say, Julius Shulman is my idol, and I should be so fortunate to follow in his footsteps.

Out of my architectural work, sparked an idea for a personal photography project and labor of love – documenting LA’s retro “googie” signage and iconic historic landmarks, which I later applied the same concept to in my travels to San Francisco and New York City. I was initially attracted to capturing hyper-colorful old signage and their neon fonts, graphic shapes and construction for fun and use in my artwork, but as the project progressed, I started to feel a sense of duty and purpose in photographing these old buildings and cityscapes. After witnessing many architectural landmarks go by way of the wrecking ball time and time again, it became a personal mission of mine to document these gems while they are still in existence and ideally, play a part in their preservation.

This idea has more recently evolved into a new labor of love project, “geo-tagging” my archive of photographs with GPS coordinates and other such metadata to pinpoint their exact location on a web-based virtual map. I’m currently geeking out with all the latest technology, utilizing Google Earth/Maps to create downloadable maps and walking tours. I firmly believe that utilizing this revolutionary technology has the potential to become an invaluable cultural resource for the historic preservation and architectural communities around the world, and I would love to play a part in photo documenting and mapping historic districts, building by building, block by block. It is my hope that, through the medium of photography, I can play a vital role in the rehabilation process of historic buildings, document our city’s most beloved cultural landmarks, creating a library legacy of photographic images and urban mapping surveys, for future generation’s use.

Carly Caryn Self-Portrait


Filed under Architecture, Art, Hollywood, Maps, New York City, Photography