Tag Archives: neo-renaissance

Our Lady of Pompeii

Our Lady of Pompeii

Our Lady of Pompeii Roman Catholic Church is prominently sited on Bleecker Street at Carmine Street. It replaces an earlier church that had been demolished during widening of Sixth Avenue.

Our Lady of Pompeii Vital Statistics
Our Lady of Pompeii Recommended Reading

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322 Central Park West

322 Central Park West is the only work of prolific New York architects George and Edward Blum to be located on Central Park West. The Blum brothers designed many Upper West Side apartment houses – why only one on CPW? Possibly because the avenue was slower to develop than other streets. The biggest park-side landmarks were erected at or after the end of the Blums’ practice.

The 15-story building rests on a three-story limestone-block base; its ornately carved, arched entrance is on W 92nd Street. As in many Blum apartment buildings, windows on the top three stories have elaborate terra cotta surrounds.

322 Central Park West has 49 apartments, and became a cooperative in 1962.

322 Central Park West Vital Statistics
322 Central Park West Recommended Reading

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Masonic Hall

Masonic Hall and the associated Masonic Building owe their existence to a third building, the Masonic Temple, which was demolished in 1910. The Masonic Temple was designed by by Napoleon LeBrun (himself a Mason) and erected on W 23rd Street in 1870. The Masons built Masonic Hall on adjoining property on W 24th Street as an addition to the Temple, in 1909. Harry P. Knowles, head-draftsman of Napoleon LeBrun & Sons (and also a Mason), designed the addition. The Masons then decided to replace the Masonic Temple with a loft building, to generate income to finance the lodge’s activities. This building, too, was designed by Knowles and erected in 1913.

Both Masonic Hall and Masonic Building are designed on the three-part scheme that treats tall buildings as classical columns: base, shaft and capital. Masonic Hall was designed in Beaux Arts style, Masonic Building in neo-Renaissance style; both are built without setbacks, as they were erected before the 1916 zoning law change. The buildings are interconnected via a pedestrian passage with shops and a restaurant.

Masonic Hall and Masonic Building are included in the Ladies Mile Historic District, designated by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1989.

Harry P. Knowles also designed Mecca Temple on W 55th Street – now known as City Center.

Masonic Hall Vital Statistics
  • Location: 46 W 24th Street at Sixth Avenue
  • Year completed: 1909
  • Architect: Harry P. Knowles
  • Floors: 18
  • Style: Beaux Arts
  • New York City Landmark: 1989
Masonic Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 71 W 23rd Street at Sixth Avenue
  • Year completed: 1913
  • Architect: Harry P. Knowles
  • Floors: 19
  • Style: neo-Renaissance
  • New York City Landmark: 1989
Masonic Hall & Building Suggested Reading

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Madison Belmont Building

The Madison Belmont Building was a prominent addition to the young “Silk District,” commercial buildings serving the silk industry that replaced the mansions of uptown-bound wealthy New Yorkers. It was among the first in the U.S. to use Art Deco design elements, according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. The overall design, however, was traditional. Like other tall buildings of the time, the Madison Belmont Building had a base – shaft – capital organization mimicking a classical column.

Although architect Whitney Warren had been exposed to Art Deco concepts while in Paris, it appears that prime tenant Cheney Silk Company also influenced the design. The company had a relationship with Edgar Brandt, a pioneer of the Art Deco style in Paris. Warren picked Brandt to design the iron and bronze framing around the showroom windows of the lower three floors, as well as the entrance doors and grilles.

The white 18th floor was added in 1953 – 29 years after the original construction.

Despite the Madison Belmont Building’s pioneering role, architects Warren & Wetmore are better known for their neo-Renaissance and Beaux Arts works, such as the New York Yacht Club, Grand Central Terminal, New York Central Building (aka Helmsley Building), Steinway Hall, Aeolian, and Heckscher Building (aka Crown Building).

Madison Belmont Building Vital Statistics
Madison Belmont Building Recommended Reading

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Whitehall Building

Whitehall Building is actually two buildings: the original 1904 20-story structure facing Battery Place, and a 1910 32-story annex directly behind that, facing West Street.

(A third building, added to the complex in 1972, is not included in this gallery. Now named One Western Union International Plaza, that 20-story office building was built in a completely different style and is now under different ownership.)

Whitehall Building was a little bit of a gamble – its location was two blocks off Broadway, the most desirable address. But the park across the street guaranteed unimpeded views; with lower-than-Broadway rents, the building was an immediate success. The owners, Robert and William Chesebrough, started buying up adjacent lots for an annex even before the first building was completed. (Robert Chesebrough was the inventor of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly.)

Henry J. Hardenbergh was the architect for the Whitehall Building. Among his prior commissions were the Dakota Apartments (1884), the original Waldorf (1895) and Astoria (1897) hotels, and the Western Union Telegraph Building (1884). His design for the Whitehall was quite colorful for the times and the location, including five different shades of brick and stone in the Battery Place facade.

The records don’t say why Hardenbergh wasn’t selected to design the annex – but it may have been because he was busy designing the Plaza Hotel. In any case, Clinton & Russell was selected for the job. Their annex, Greater Whitehall, was much larger than Whitehall Building; in fact, it was the largest office building in New York at the time.

The upper floors (14-31) of both buildings have now been converted to rental apartments – Ocean Luxury Residences.

Whitehall Building Vital Statistics
Whitehall Building Recommended Reading

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12 E 87th Street

12 East 87th Street, aka The Capitol, is a stunning example of George & Edward Blum’s textured designs. The eight-story luxury building is hidden mid-block between Fifth and Madison Avenues.

The Capitol is clad in glazed white terra cotta and Roman brick, with deep-set windows and remnants of a prominent terra cotta cornice (the upper part of the cornice was removed, but the supporting brackets remain). A dry moat in front includes stairs to the basement level. The black railing in front was originally all brass, matching the entrance, but pieces were stolen over the years, and replaced with galvanized steel.

The original whole-floor apartments boasted 14 rooms and four baths. Each apartment’s four main “public” rooms – the living room, dining room, reception room and salon – were interconnected to provide a 40-foot by 50-foot space for entertaining. In 1935 and 1943, the owners subdivided the eight apartments into 32 units. (See the Street Easy listing for current floor plans.)

The building became a cooperative in 1985.

12 East 87th Street Vital Statistics
12 East 87th Street Recommended Reading

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31 E 79th Street

31 E 79th Street is two buildings in one, though you wouldn’t know it at first glance. The original, eastern section was built in 1925 with one seven-room apartment per floor; the western section, added three years later, contained triplex apartments.

From the outside, only three clues that the building was built in parts: Inconsistent cornice, cracks developing in E 79th Street facade, and unusual horizontal spacing of windows.

See Andrew Alpern’s “New York’s Fabulous Luxury Apartments for floor plans (not to mention 73 other luxury apartment houses).

31 E 79th Street Vital Statistics
31 E 79th Street Recommended Reading

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194 Riverside Drive

194 Riverside Drive is relatively small, and well-screened by the trees of Joan of Arc Island – it would be easy to miss. But the building’s bold features are well worth seeing close up.

According to the Street Easy real estate website, the seven-story building originally had three 13-room apartments per floor; now there are 42 units.

The architect, Ralph S. Townsend, also designed neighboring 190 Riverside Drive as well as the much showier Kenilworth on Central Park West. In one of his Streetscapes columns, The New York Times’ architectural historian, Christopher Gray, provides some background on the architect.

(A wonderful collection of Gray’s columns was published in 2003 under the title New York Streetscapes. Although it is now out of print, you can still get copies at Amazon.com – both new and used: New York Streetscapes: Tales of Manhattan’s Significant Buildings and Landmarks)

194 Riverside Drive Vital Statistics
194 Riverside Drive Recommended Reading

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Holtz House

Holtz House seems taller than 12 stories, thanks to the four-story “wings” that Charles Holtz and Bruno Freystedt annexed in 1910 to expand their two-story restaurant in New York’s Ladies Mile Historic District. Architect William C. Frohne designed a memorable storefront that is still largely intact.

The builder, Philip Braender, was a prolific developer who erected more than 1,500 structures in the last two decades of the 19th century according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

The three-story base is the building’s most notable feature: Two large doorways flank the two-story storefront – an elaborate wall of five casement windows topped by oval panes and an ornate metal frieze displaying winged dragon-cornucopias on either side of the name “HOLTZ.” Above the base is a nine-story arch containing the central windows.

Two years after opening, Holtz House was connected to the adjoining buildings (numbers 5 and 11) to accommodate Holtz and Frystedt’s expanding business, the LPC reported.

The loft building originally housed all commercial tenants, then in 1987 the top eight floors were converted to residential units, notes the Daytonian in Manhattan blog.

Holtz House Vital Statistics
Holtz House Recommended Reading

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Warren Building

Warren Building is a neo-Renaissance gem with exquisite detail, refurbished in 2012. Though stripped of its original first floor colonnade and fourth floor balconies, the building’s marble and terra cotta trim, combined with roman brick, are stunning.

The prominent firm of McKim, Meade & White designed this seven-story building – and also designed the Goelet Building diagonally across Broadway. Broadway cuts diagonally across E 20th Street, making corners a little awkward (because we expect building corners to be right angles). McKim, Mead & White finessed the Warren Building’s corner with a chamfer; the Goelet Building’s corner is rounded.

Warren Building Vital Statistics
Warren Building Recommended Reading

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