Tag Archives: 1895

126 E 66 Street

126 E 66 Street is memorable for its Roman brick arches and massive wood doors. The picturesque three-story residence is directly across the street from the Seventh Regiment Armory (aka Park Avenue Armory), built 17 years prior.

According to NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission research, the building “Replaced a rowhouse built in the 1870’s. Built as a stable, coach house, and residence for coachman’s family. Henry 0. Havemeyer, who commissioned the stable, lived at 1 East 66th Street. After its completion, he sold it to Oliver H. Payne, brother-in-law of William C. Whitney.” The building was sold to John Hay Whitney and at this writing is still in the Whitney family.

An article in Curbed NY points out that the building is only a remnant of the original structure. As built, the coach house and stables extended to the site of 122-124 E 66 Street.

Havemeyer, who commissioned the building, was the prominent Domino Sugar magnate for whom the Brooklyn Street is named.

126 E 66 Street Vital Statistics
126 E 66 Street Recommended Reading

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American Tract Society Building

If you don’t like the American Tract Society Building, blame the sinners of 1824 New York. The building is here because the ATS’ Rev. William Allen Hallock believed that the religious publisher should be headquartered where it is needed most – in “the great wicked city of New York.”

Fast forward to 1894: The ATS decided to erect an office building on their land, as an investment. They chose Robert H. Robertson – prominent for his churches and religious institutions – to design the building.

Like his later Park Row Building (15 Park Row, completed 1899), the American Tract Society Building mixes styles: Romanesque and Renaissance Revival. This structure also mixes construction types: the facades are part self-supporting masonry, part curtain wall.

When completed, the American Tract Society Building was among New York’s tallest structures – tallest, by full floor count (20). But Robertson, who did not really like tall buildings, designed this one in layers that de-emphasized the structure’s height.

Alas, the building had more than its share of bad luck. For starters, during construction a plasterer’s assistant fell 14 stories to his death. ATS declined to help the worker’s family despite the glare of publicity – even banning an alms box on the site. In the first year of operations, three elevator accidents injured passengers. Then in 1897 another elevator dropped 19 floors, killing two people.

The elevator accidents contributed to poor rental performance, and by 1913 ATS was unable to meet the mortgage. Mortgage holder New York Life Insurance Company resold the building in late 1919, but it was in default again by the end of 1936. The building has changed hands several times since – including a 15-year span under Pace University, which owns two neighboring buildings. The American Tract Society Building is now a residential building, except for retail space on the ground floors (the lot slopes steeply toward the east so that the basement level is exposed in the rear).

The elevators appear to have been totally replaced.

American Tract Society Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 150 Nassau Street at Spruce Street
  • Year completed: 1895
  • Architect: Robert H. Robertson
  • Floors: 23
  • Style: Romanesque and Renaissance Revival
  • New York City Landmark: 1999
  • National Register of Historic Places:
American Tract Society Building Suggested Reading

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Engine Company 31

Engine Company 31 is the most elaborate of Napoleon LeBrun’s firehouse designs, and was derided as “a manifestly extravagant absurdity.” Extravagant or not, it’s certainly impressive.

Engine Company 31 moved in during 1895 after New York City sold the unit’s old home to New York Life Insurance Company. The Fire Department left the building in 1970 and Engine Company 31 was ultimately disbanded in 1972. The Downtown Community Television Center now uses the building as a studio and production center.

Engine Company 31 Vital Statistics
  • Location: 87 Lafayette Street at White Street
  • Year completed: 1895
  • Architect: Napoleon LeBrun & Sons
  • Floors: 3
  • Style: Loire Valley Chateau
  • New York City Landmark: 1966
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1972
Engine Company 31 Suggested Reading

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W 71st Street Row Houses

West 71st Street, between West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard, was designated a New York City Historic District in 1989, to preserve 36 buildings – principally row houses built 1893-1896 on a dead-end street.

This collection depicts eight of those houses – 329 to 343 W 71st Street – designed by Horgan & Slattery.

History does not look kindly on Horgan & Slattery; their most prominent commissions, it was charged, came from Tammany Hall connections rather than merit. This set of row houses, though private residences untainted by political connections, have been criticized as a copy of Stanford White’s Century Association Building on W 43rd Street (see The New York Times article).

Regardless of who should get credit for the design (the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission credits Horgan & Slattery without comment), they are exceptional buildings!

The yellow/tan brick, terra cotta decoration, alternating round-arched and plain doors, oval windows, balconies, columns and pilasters – give the buildings unique character.

If you visit the block you’ll see something else that’s unique: An artificial “dead end.” Before Riverside Boulevard was created over the former West Side rail yards, W 71st was a dead end. The street now joins Riverside Boulevard, but barriers (retractable to allow emergency vehicles) make it a through street only for pedestrians. A local resident said the barriers are to maintain the street’s quiet character.

W 71st Street Row Houses Vital Statistics
W 71st Street Row Houses Recommended Reading

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Engine Company 14

Engine Company 14 is typical of early New York City firehouses – typically ornate, that is. The Department’s official architect, Napoleon Le Brun, made each house different.

The care given to firehouse design reflected the Fire Department’s campaign to raise the department’s professionalism, as it shifted from a volunteer to paid force.

Engine Company 14 Vital Statistics
Engine Company 14 Recommended Reading

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Scheffel Hall

Scheffel Hall, named for German poet Joseph Victor von Scheffel, recalls the days of Kleindeutschland (Little Germany), home of German immigrants on the Lower East Side.

Carl Goerwitz, a waiter who emigrated to New York in 1873, took over the lease on 190 Third Avenue in 1894. He hired the architectural firm of Weber & Drosser to remodel the building and join it to adjacent buildings that he already owned. The elaborate facade mimics Friedrichsbau at Heidelberg Castle. According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, the building is among the earliest surviving examples of terra cotta cladding.

In 1904 Goerwitz subleased the building, and it was eventually bought by adjacent Allaire’s restaurant. In the early 1900s the establishment was popular with politicians and writers (including O. Henry).

In more recent years the building was home to jazz club Fat Tuesday’s. It is now a pilates studio.

Scheffel Hall Vital Statistics
Scheffel Hall Recommended Reading

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