Tag Archives: 1893

256 Fifth Avenue

256 Fifth Avenue is among the few examples of Moorish Revival architecture in New York City. As the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission noted, it’s “remarkably intact” for a building that went up in 1893.

The windows steal the show: Their size, shape, number and decoration changes from floor to ornate floor.

Alas, the building is not without alterations. The ground floor storefront is now standard commercial granite; the sixth-floor terra cotta balcony was removed – probably because it was in danger of falling after a century of use. The gaps in the terra cotta were never filled in.

256 Fifth Avenue Vital Statistics
256 Fifth Avenue Recommended Reading

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Puck Building – NoLita

The Puck Building – named for the magazine that originally had offices and printing presses here – was built in two sections: the north (shorter, Houston Street) end in 1886 and the south end seven years later, in 1893.

The massive structure was among the largest built in what was then the printing/publishing district, designed in the German variation of Romanesque Revival. However, the building’s chief architectural distinction is two gilt-covered statues of Puck, Shakespeare’s character (from “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”): The larger on the NE corner, a smaller version over the Lafayette Street entrance.

At this writing, the building’s cornice is being rebuilt to hide a penthouse recently (December 2011) approved by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Puck Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 293 Lafayette Street at E Houston Street
  • Year completed: 1886 and 1893
  • Architect: Albert and Herman Wagner
  • Floors: 9
  • Style: Romanesque Revival
  • New York City Landmark: 1983
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1983
Puck Building Suggested Reading

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New Era Building

With its eye-catching Art Nouveau copper mansard roof, the New Era Building stands out in the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District. You can spot the building a block away.

But up close, it’s even more wondrous: The deeply incised white terra cotta detailing of the sixth floor arches has the appearance of carved ivory. What’s more, the facade has been restored to a pristine white.


There seems to be some confusion over the original owner and architect of this building. The “AIA Guide to New York City” accurately describes the structure, but identifies the New Era Building as 491 Broadway, designed by Buchman & Dreiser. The Daytonian in Manhattan blog gives it the right address – 495 Broadway – but also says the building was designed by Buchman & Dreiser, and was originally owned by Jeremiah C. Lyons. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission says 495 Broadway was owned by Augustus D. Julliard and designed by Alfred Zucker; 491 Broadway, the larger building next door, was owned by Lyons and designed by Buchman & Dreiser. I’m going with the Landmarks Preservation Commission version.

New Era Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 495 Broadway between Spring and Broome Streets
  • Year completed: 1893
  • Architect: Alfred Zucker
  • Floors: 8
  • Style: Art Nouveau
  • New York City Landmark: 1973 (included in SoHo Cast Iron Historic District)
New Era Building Suggested Reading

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Decker Building

Decker Building (aka Union Building) is a delight to look at, and fascinating in its history. The white, 12-story limestone and brick facade is lavishly decorated with lacy terra cotta patterns. The windows – some with Venetian-style Juliet balconies – are elaborate works of art in themselves. And the two-story tower, once topped by a minaret, is filled with Moorish ogee (horseshoe) arches.

As befits such a radical building, the Decker Building was designed by John Edelmann, a Cleveland, Ohio-born anarchist so radical that he was expelled from the Socialist Labor Party. At the time, Edelmann was working for New York architect Alfred Zucker. (Louis H. Sullivan, a much more prominent architect, credited his success to Edelmann.)

The original owner, and tenant until 1913, was The Decker Piano Company. The building was then acquired (and renamed Union Square Building) by Lowenfeld & Prager, which traded the property in 1916. In more recent years, The Union Building reverted to The Decker Building. Andy Warhol’s second “Factory” was located on the sixth floor from 1968 to 1974. This is where, in 1968, playwright Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol and art critic Mario Amaya.

The building was sold in foreclosure in 1994 to Windsor Construction Company; architect Joseph Pell Lombardi oversaw restoration of the facade. The building now houses a ground floor store and 18 residential units.

Decker Building Vital Statistics
Decker Building Recommended Reading

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Keuffel & Esser Company Building

Keuffel & Esser Company Building, a New York landmark designed by De Lemos & Cordes, is well-preserved Renaissance Revival architecture on Fulton Street.

Like many commercial buildings in lower Manhattan, this has been converted (2010) to residential use – Compass Points Condominiums. “Compass Points” refers to two of Keuffel & Esser’s lines of business: Drafting/drawing instruments and surveying instruments.

Unlike many commercial buildings in lower Manhattan, this facade has been well preserved and restored. The Fulton Street side is the building’s most impressive facade, although the back of the building (42 Ann Street) is actually one story taller.

Architects Theodore W. E. De Lemos and August W. Cordes were successful designers of commercial buildings. Among their accomplishments are the Macy’s department store (original Broadway building), the Siegel-Cooper Department Store (now occupied by Bed Bath & Beyond) on Sixth Avenue, and the original Empire State Building (named for the Empire State Bank), 640 Broadway at Bleecker Street.

Keuffel & Esser Company Building Vital Statistics
Keuffel & Esser Company Building Recommended Reading

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249 West End Avenue

249 West End Avenue stands squeezed between apartment buildings three times its height, thanks to the perseverance of its owner, Mary Cook.

The five-story building, once typical of West End Avenue townhouses, was constructed as one of five homes designed to look like one large building (see the Daytonian in Manhattan blog for the “before” picture).

Mrs. Cook, a widow, declined offers from developers both north and south of her home. In 1915, 255 West End Avenue rose 14 stories to her north. In 1925, 243 West End Avenue rose 15 stories to her south.

Mrs. Cook died in 1932; the building became home of the Continental Club, and in the late 40s it was converted to apartments.

249 West End Avenue Vital Statistics
Recommended Reading

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