Across from Cinema Village on E. 12th Street—a very nice block on the Middle Village—are a trio of old brick buildings. The one in the middle, 15 E. 12th Street, is particularly handsome, having retained its original lintels and cornice. Particularly earning my notice was a carving in the middle of the cornice indicating the building had been erected in 1873. Pretty old, even by Village standards. It has been home to the Marquet pastry shop since 1993.
The large central window on the second floor would indicate that this was a commercial building of some sort, and that there was a business on the second floor. I've seen other similar display windows on old building in other parts of the city. The date in the cornice would also point to an early mercantile life for this building; private residences rarely proclaimed their erection date on the facade.
I cannot find any evidence as to who built the thing or first occupied it. But old Certificates of Occupancy from 1933 show a store in the ground floor space, but apartments on the floors above. In 1955, there was a luncheonette here. In the 1970s, the ground floor was used for storage. In the 1980s, there was a custom print shop here. And then, of course, Marquet.