Have you ever wondered what the big, elegant building is opposite C&C? The Markle Evangeline Residence is a women’s only, subsidized apartment building, operated under the aegis of the Salvation Army. But how was such a building built or even thought of?
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is evangelical part of the universal Christian church. All Salvationists accept a disciplined and compassionate life of high moral standards which includes abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. They are famously known by their red kettle symbol, which they use on the streets to solicit donations for the poor. In the 1920s, General Evangeline Booth, the commander of the Salvation Army and daughter of the founder, dreamt of creating a residence where young women moving to New York City could stay safely and comfortably. Philanthropist John Markle generously funded her dream with $500,000 and in 1930 a new building at 123 West 13th Street was completed.
Since The Markle’s opening, almost 90 years ago, the residence has only offered accommodation for women who are working, interning or studying in New York City. There are single, double, and triple bedrooms with private bathrooms. As part of their monthly rent, residents receive two communal meals a day, room cleaning, and utilities including air conditioning, internet access, and security services. There is a 24-hour doorman, a study hall, a lounge with a TV, a gym, and full laundry facilities. There is also a choir that residents can join.
Men are only allowed to visit in the lobby and the dining room; they are not permitted to visit any other rooms. There is a zero tolerance policy for consumption of alcohol or smoking anywhere in the building and there is no cooking allowed in the rooms. These rules were created in accordance with the charter of the Salvation Army.
There are approximately 350 women currently residing at The Markle, but no men or children. Residents are typically aged between 18 and 55 and more than 50% of them come from overseas. If women living at The Markle get pregnant they can stay living there when their child is born but no men may ever move in.
There used to be a lot of women’s only residences in NYC but there are not many left now. Due to the value of real estate in the city, many of these institutions, including others owned by the Salvation Army, have been sold and redeveloped as apartment buildings. Although the actual building at 123 West 13th Street is landmarked, and cannot be demolished, it is likely that one day The Salvation Army will sell the building and use the money to further their charitable work.