Tag Archives: 1903

131 Buckingham Road

131 Buckingham Road is widely cited as New York City’s most unusual residence – a century-old Japanese-style wood-frame home, in the heart of Victorian Flatbush.

In the words of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, “The most exotic and certainly the best-known house in Prospect Park South is this Japanese style wood and stucco structure designed in 1902 by Petit & Green for Dean Alvord. The dwelling is further evidence of Petit’s ability to design in many architectural styles, but in order to give the building a genuine oriental quality, he was assisted by three Japanese artisans: Saburo Arai, who worked as a contractor; Shunso Ishikawa, who was responsible for the original color scheme and decorations, and Chogoro Sugai, who designed the original garden.”

According to the Commission, “The cost of building this house was estimated in 1902 as being $12,000, and in 1903 the price for the purchase of the building was quoted as $26,500, very high for a building in Prospect Park South. By advertising this exotic structure, Alvord hoped to attract potential buyers who were curious about this dwelling, but would buy the less expensive structures in the area. Alvord noted in a boldly printed box at the bottom of the advertisement that ‘many other houses equally artistic and distinctive, at varying prices, are ready for inspection.’ “

The Flatbush Development Corporation house tours frequently feature this home – see the FDC website or call 718-859-3800 for information.

This gem is just one of the jewels of the Prospect Park South Historic District and adjacent Beverley Square West development.

131 Buckingham Road Vital Statistics
131 Buckingham Road Recommended Reading

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Hotel Martinique

Hotel Martinique is full of surprises. For starters, don’t let the French Renaissance style fool you: The name has nothing to do with the sunny French Caribbean island – it’s named for developer William R. H. Martin. And the showy Broadway and W 32nd Street facades are actually add-ons to the hotel – it started as a more modest property on W 33rd Street.

But if the style reminds you of the Plaza, that shouldn’t surprise: the two hotels have the same architect, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh.

Like the Plaza, Hotel Martinique has open space – Greeley Square – in front of it, to show off grand-scaled elements: A four-story mansard roof, tiers of balconies and gigantic ornaments.

Grandiose was appropriate for the time. Just down the block (where the Empire State Building now stands) were the original Waldorf and Astoria hotels (also designed by Hardenbergh).

Unfortunately, as the theater district moved north over the years, so did Martinique’s luxury clientele. By the late 1900s the property became run down; in the ’70s and ’80s it was a notorious homeless shelter and welfare hotel. At the time of its designation as a NYC landmark, the Hotel Martinique was being renovated as a Holiday Inn. Currently it is a Radisson property, popular with airline crews and tour groups. In keeping with W 32nd Street’s current identity – “Korea Way” – the property has a 24-hour Korean restaurant, Kum Gang San.

Hotel Martinique Vital Statistics
  • Location: 1260 Broadway at West 32nd Street
  • Year completed: 1898, 1903, 1911 (3 phases)
  • Architect: Henry Janeway Hardenbergh
  • Floors: 16
  • Style: French Renaissance
  • New York City Landmark: 1998
Hotel Martinique Suggested Reading

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Johnston Building

Johnston Building, aka NoMad Hotel, was built in 1903 as a store and office building. It is notable for its limestone facade – an expensive finish for an office building – and for its corner tower and cupola. Last but not least, it is also notable (for 1903) that the owner was a woman: Caroline H. Johnston.

After a lengthy conversion (2008-2012) by Sydell Group, the building is now a Parisian-inspired boutique hotel with interiors designed by Jacques Garcia.

Sydell Group also operates the Ace Hotel – the former Breslin Hotel – located one block to the north.

Johnston Building Vital Statistics
Johnston Building Recommended Reading

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Hotel York

Hotel York, converted to rental apartments in 1986, is now known as The York. The Beaux Arts limestone, brick, and terra cotta facade was grievously altered on the ground floor with a pale green glass skin framing storefronts.

On the second story and above, the original terra cotta and iron decoration is in bold relief against the limestone and red brick facade.

At least 18 of Harry B. Mulliken’s hotels and apartment houses, built in 1900-1915, still survive in Manhattan – including The Lucerne.

Hotel York Vital Statistics
Hotel York Recommended Reading

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Hotel Belleclaire

Hotel Belleclaire was one of the first residences designed by Emery Roth, who went on to become one of New York’s most important apartment house architects.

Although Roth’s later work was primarily in Beaux Arts and Art Deco styles, Belleclaire was designed in Art Nouveau. The original design included a domed turret on the corner, which was removed in the ’50s. The ground floor restaurant and hotel office windows have been replaced with storefronts, and the original Broadway entrance was moved to the W 77th Street courtyard.

Belleclaire began life as an upper class apartment hotel – families lived there more or less permanently, relying on hotel services for housekeeping and meals. Over the years the hotel’s clientele – and facilities – changed. Transients were accepted; kitchenettes were added; for a time it was among New York’s “welfare hotels” for indigent families.

Fast forward to 2008: owners embarked on a total renovation and upgrade, now (May 2014) nearly complete. Later this year they plan to open a rooftop restaurant.

Hotel Belleclaire Vital Statistics
Hotel Belleclaire Recommended Reading

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