Let in the 1860’s! Lower East Side Tenement Museum Expands

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is expanding. On May 1, the museum closed on a deal to buy the five-story building at 81 Delancey Street for just under $7 million, according to Renée Epps, the museum’s executive vice president.

The museum made out pretty well, as the 18,000-square-foot building was listed at $8.95 million on brokerage Massey Knakal’s Web site. The purchase expands the museum’s neighborhood portfolio, which already includes buildings at 91 and 97 Orchard Street.

“We are one of the most visited tourist attractions in New York City,” Ruth Abram, the museum’s president and founder, told The Observer. “We had to turn away people last year; we were desperate to expand.”

The museum is perhaps best known for its tours of apartments that have been redone to resemble tenements from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. “We have long wanted to interpret stories prior to 1860 and after 1935,” Ms. Abram said. “The new building will allow us to do this.”

Despite the purchase, the current tenants on the upper floors of 81 Delancey need not fear eviction: The museum will only occupy the basement and the first two floors of the building, all of which are currently vacant. Ms. Abram said that she expects the renovations on 81 Delancey will take about two years.

Let in the 1860’s! Lower East Side Tenement Museum Expands