Tag Archives: 1887

Goelet Building

Goelet Building * looks surprisingly modern for architecture more than a century old. The structure was built in two stages. The first five floors were completed in 1887. The original sixth floor was demolished in 1906 and replaced with five floors that more or less mimicked the three floors below.

The Maynicke & Franke addition blends very well with the McKim, Mead & White original. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission notes minor differences in materials and patterns, but the final result maintains a colorful, yet elegant appearance. This is no small accomplishment; add-on floors can be disastrous. Just take a look at De Lemos & Cordes’ 1889 Armeny Building, defaced by a two-story addition in 1893.

As with their Warren Building diagonally across the street, McKim, Mead & White faced the challenge of a non-rectangular plot. They rounded the corner, to avoid the awkward corner dictated by the property line.

In his New York Times Streetscapes column, historian Christopher Gray lauds the Justin family for rescuing the Goetlet Building from decline. Zoltan Justin bought the building in 1977. He and son Jeffrey cleaned the facade, removed non-historic elements, and restored the structure to its original glory.

* Not to be confused with the 1932 Goelet Building, now known as Swiss Center Building, located at Fifth Avenue and W 49th Street.

†See Tom Miller’s post in Daytonian in Manhattan for a look at the original six-story building.

Goelet Building Vital Statistics
Goelet Building Recommended Reading

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387 St. Paul’s Avenue

387 St. Paul’s Avenue is the “poster child” of Staten Island’s historic houses. The exuberant Queen Anne style, sunny palette, and impeccable maintenance make it a much-photographed home in the St. Paul’s Avenue / Stapleton Heights Historic District.

According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report, “This exceptional Queen Anne-style house was built by brewery baron George Bechtel as a wedding present for his daughter Anna Bechtel Weiderer (1867-1899), whose husband, Leonard Weiderer, owned a glass factory in Stapleton. George Bechtel’s home, a large Greek Revival house fronting on Van Duzer Street (demolished), was located on a spacious lot that extended to the rear of this property allowing Bechtel to create a family enclave with merged gardens. The Weiderer house was constructed by the Stapleton builder Henry Spruck who in the early 1900s published a pamphlet illustrating the building which he credited to the architectural firm of Kafka & Lindenmeyr. Given the date of the house, it must have been the work of the firm’s founder Hugo Kafka, Sr. (1843-1915). Born in Prague, Kafka was educated at the Polytechnikum in Zurich, where he studied under Gottfried Semper. In 1874, he immigrated to Philadelphia to work with Herman Schwarzmann on the Centennial Exposition of 1876. In 1878 Kafka moved his architectural practice to New York. He had numerous commissions for apartment buildings and houses and also designed the Joseph Loth Silk Ribbon factory (1885-86, a designated New York City Landmark) at 1818-1838 Amsterdam Avenue, and Saint Peter’s German Evangelical Reformed Church, now the Free Magyar Reformed Church, Kreischerville, Staten Island (1883, a designated New York City Landmark), a work with which Bechtel would have undoubtedly been familiar.

“Kafka’s design for the Weiderer House is distinguished by its complex massing and its interplay of geometric forms and light and shadow. There is a turreted corner tower, curved bays, recessed porches set off by round openings, a variety of intersecting hipped and gabled roofs, and exuberant detailing, Resting on a base of massive stone boulders, the walls are clad with shingles cut in a variety of shapes and laid in horizontal bands. Multi-pane windows are arranged in differing configurations and most contain stained glass. This large mansion has twenty-four rooms, twenty-four stained-glass windows, and six fireplaces. The Weiderers lived at 387 St. Paul’s Avenue for only a few years. Leonard died in 1891, and his widow moved to Germany and remarried in 1894; she died in 1899 at age 31. George Bechtel had died in 1889, so the house passed to his widow Eva who had taken charge of the family brewery to protect the interests of her thirteen year old son. She continued to occupy the Van Duzer Street House.

“Around 1899, Anna’s sister, Agnes Bechtel Wagner, moved to this house where she resided until the late 1920s. Today, it remains remarkably intact and has recently been restored. It was the
subject of a public hearing by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1980.”

The owners kindly permitted me to take photos of the rear of the home.

My only grumble: I wish the wires were underground!

387 St. Paul’s Avenue Vital Statistics
387 St. Paul’s Avenue Recommended Reading

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19th Precinct

The 19th Precinct Station House is the second of four late-1880s landmarks in a row on the north side of E 67th Street – and now actually joined to the third, a fire station house.*

The building was conceived in 1883 as the home of the 28th Precinct – which then covered the area from E 58th to E 79th Streets, from Central Park to the East River and Roosevelt Island (then known as Blackwell’s Island). By the time that construction was underway in 1886, the Precinct had been renumbered (25th) and its territory extended a block south to E 57th Street. The unit was renumbered again in 1908 (31st Precinct), 1924 (10A Precinct), and 1929 (19th Precinct).

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated this (and three adjacent buildings) as landmarks in 1980, but the Board of Estimate overturned the designation for the Precinct and neighboring fire house. The city’s plan: Demolish and rebuild. (The separate jail, behind the station house, had been demolished in 1974.) An alternate plan was devised in 1990 that saved the fronts of the precinct and fire house, and built new rear portions that joined the two structures. The precinct now uses upper floors of the adjacent fire house (which originally had been used as NYFD headquarters).

*The four E 67th Street landmarks are: Mount Sinai Dispensary (now Kennedy Child Study Center) at 149; 19th (originally 25th) Police Precinct at 153; Engine Company 39/Ladder Company 16 Station House at 157; and Park East Synagogue, 163.

19th Precinct Vital Statistics
19th Precinct Recommended Reading

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Hugh O’Neill Building

The dazzling white Hugh O’Neill Building on Sixth Avenue is a great example of historic restoration and recycling in New York. Not only did the developers bring an old building back to life, they also magically added two floors without changing the original appearance. While structural problems have appeared, the future looks bright.

Hugh O’Neill, an Irish immigrant, was a very successful retailer. He outgrew his original Sixth Avenue store and replaced it in 1887 with a four-story double-domed emporium. In 1890, he expanded the store at the rear of the West 20th Street wing. In 1895 he added a fifth floor (raising the domes one story in the process).

Alas, after O’Neill died in 1902 the store (and most neighboring retailers) deteriorated and closed. The corner domes were removed in the early 1900s, and the building was converted to lofts.

In 2004 the by-then grey building got a new lease on life: Conversion to condominium apartments. The developer Elad Properties, and architects Cetra/Ruddy Inc. got Landmarks Preservation Commission approval to restore the missing domes – and add two stories of apartments at the same time. The trick was to set back the new floors so that they are not visible from the street.

In December 2012 one of the building’s columns on West 2oth Street collapsed, forcing evacuation. Repairs were made, but scaffolding still covers the West 20th Street facade at this writing (June 2013).

Hugh O’Neill Building Vital Statistics
Hugh O’Neill Building Recommended Reading

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The Arlington

The Arlington is the last and tallest of four ornate Romanesque Revival/Queen Anne style apartment buildings built on Montague Street; the others, designed by the Parfitt Bros. firm, are The Montague (105), and The Berkeley/The Grosvenor (111/115). The 10-story tower makes this one stand out.

Playwright Arthur Miller lived here, as well as artist/filmmaker Marie Menken and poet Willard Maas.

An Arlington resident – Chuck Taylor – seems to be the building’s self-appointed historian: He’s written four blog pieces about the structure. His Smoking Nun essay includes vintage photos of Montague Street when it was a trolley route, and before.

The Arlington Vital Statistics
The Arlington Recommended Reading

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One Broadway

One Broadway is a building within a building: Strip away the 1921 Neo-Classical white limestone skin and you’ll find a red brick and brownstone Queen Anne-style structure built in 1887.

(For a rare look at the “before,” take a look at Archiseek‘s article.)

Also beneath the facade, you’ll find layers of history – condensed here from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission report:

The 1887 building, built on the site of a home reputedly used by General Washington, was named the Washington Building. It was built for Cyrus W. Field, whose Atlantic Telegraph Company laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable. The architect, Edward H. Kendall, also designed the Gorham Mfg. Building and the Methodist Book Concern.

J.P. Morgan’s International Mercantile Marine Company (IMMC) bought the building in 1919; Walter B. Chambers re-designed the structure inside and out. With competitor Cunard Line just a few doors up Broadway, the International Mercantile Marine Company Building became the anchor for “Steamship Row.” IMMC operated numerous subsidiaries, including Titanic‘s White Star Line. By 1940 internal mergers reduced the company to United States Lines, which took over the building from 1941 to 1979. Allstate Life Insurance Co. bought the building at a foreclosure sale in 1992 and financed a $2 million restoration in 1993-1994.

The building is now occupied by a branch of Citibank and Kenyon & Kenyon LLP – an intellectual property law firm.

One Broadway Vital Statistics
One Broadway Recommended Reading

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