As a teenager, during summers, Edwin Peralta worked as a relief doorman at 131 East 66th Street until 1983. That’s when a full-time position opened up. He was just 19 then, and he continues to be a doorman there today.
Peralta, 52, knows inside and out the history of the 11-story structure, known as the Studio Building, and of its residents. The Studio Building was designed by architect Charles A. Platt and built in 1906; it was designated as a landmark building in 2006, he says.
He describes the unique double-high ceilings of the apartments done in the Italian Renaissance-inspired style, and talks about how the Studio Building was originally designed for artists to live in.
“The windows are huge to get all that sunlight in,” he says. And he mentions how the manually-operated elevators are still in use.
“I feel like the shareholders are family to me,” he says. “When they’re sick, I feel bad. If someone is going in for a procedure, I worry. I see them grow up and get older. If I haven’t seen some tenants all day, I’ll think to myself, let me call and see if they’re okay, and then it’s good to hear their voice and to know that they’re fine.”
He goes on, saying, “It’s great to see the kids when they go off to school, great to see them when they come back and after the summer away, how tall they’ve become,” he says.
It works both ways. Shareholders have watched Peralta grow up. And he has a three-generation family link to the building service industry, since his father, Tomas, was a doorman at the building for 34 years. The two overlapped for seven years at the same workplace, until the elder Peralta retired in 1994. (He died in 2011.) Peralta himself has two stepchildren, including one who also works as a doorman.
After work, Peralta is happy to return to Rockland County, where he lives with his wife, stepson and two dogs. Domestic by nature, he says, he does a lot of the cooking at his home. Some of the food comes directly from a vegetable garden in his backyard where he grows eggplants, tomatoes, green peppers, peppermint and basil.
“Nothing like fresh tomatoes with basil and fresh mozzarella,” he says.
Still learning the art of cooking, he watches a lot of food channels on TV, he says, and pays attention to what his wife creates in the kitchen. And then he has another way of getting answers to his cooking questions: “A lot of phone calls to my mom.”