Tag Archives: renaissance revival

228 Bleecker Street

228 Bleecker Street

228 Bleecker Street is a nicely maintained example of the larger apartment buildings that replaced small dwellings in the early 1900s. Greenwich Village at that time was growing, with an influx of Italian immigrants.

The building is across the street from Our Lady of Pompeii RC Church (built 27 years later).

The tiny residential entry is on Bleecker Street, sandwiched between the building’s gustatory tenants: Trattoria Spaghetto, on the right, Molly’s Cupcakes on the left. Buon appetito!

228 Bleecker Street Vital Statistics
228 Bleecker Street Recommended Reading

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166 Fifth Avenue

166 Fifth Avenue, a seven-story store and loft building, replaced a mansion in 1899-1900. The storefront (like those of its neighbors) has been modernized.

The building is part of the Ladies Mile Historic District, designated in 1989. At the time, Andrews Coffee Shop occupied the ground floor.

166 Fifth Avenue Vital Statistics
166 Fifth Avenue Recommended Reading

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235 W 76th Street

235 W 76th Street, aka The Colorado,* is a pre-war apartment building in Renaissance Revival style, enlivened by colorful terra cotta in the base and crown.

The building’s architect – Robert T. Lyons – is best known for his Beaux Arts masterpiece on Central Park West, the St. Urban.

* Not to be confused with the same-named Upper East Side condo.

235 W 76th Street Vital Statistics
235 W 76th Street Recommended Reading

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215 W 75th Street

215 W 75th Street, aka Majestic Towers, is a sedate Upper West Side cooperative now – but it roared in the ’20s as a brothel and speakeasy!

According to a history originally published on the building’s now-dormant website, the structure was designed as a bordello. Celebrities and celebrated madam Polly Adler called this home. During police raids, patrons could escape via reputed “secret” staircases. (Naysayers pooh-pooh the idea, and say the stairs were just fire escapes required by the building code of the time.)

Architecturally, the building follows the traditional base-shaft-crown organization. The three-story crown is the most expressive feature, with white terra cotta decoration.

Majestic Towers became a cooperative in 1989.

215 W 75th Street Vital Statistics
215 W 75th Street Recommended Reading

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Apthorp Apartments

Apthorp Apartments takes up the entire block from 78th to 79th Streets, Broadway to West End Avenue. It is divided into four sub-buildings around a central courtyard. Built in 1906-1908 by Viscount William Waldorf Astor, who later moved to a castle in England (“America is not a fit place for a gentleman to live”).

The building went condo in 2008 with apartments averaging $6.5 million. (A number of legal issues cropped up, but that’s another story.) The conversion modernized the building to include techy touches like Cat5E (computer network) and FiOS wiring.

Apthorp has New York City landmark status and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Apthorp Apartments Vital Statistics
  • Location: 2209 Broadway (whole block from Broadway to West End Avenue, W 78th to W 79th Streets)
  • Year completed: 1908
  • Architect: Clinton & Russell
  • Floors: 12
  • Style: Renaissance Revival
  • New York City Landmark: 1969
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1978
Apthorp Apartments Suggested Reading

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The Evelyn Apartments

The Evelyn Apartments, West 78th Street at Columbus Avenue, was designed by Emile Gruwe and built in 1886. Described in the “AIA Guide to New York City” as “A big, bold symphony in reds….”, there was a brief battle over preservation of the building’s terra cotta angels. No doubt about it: This is architecture that makes even New Yorkers pause.

On the Columbus Avenue side, a couple of nightclubs have had illustrious runs here: P & G Bar, and Evelyn Lounge. Across the street, a more famous landmark: The American Museum of Natural History.

Evelyn Apartments Vital Statistics
  • Location: 380 Columbus Avenue at W78th Street
  • Year completed: 1886
  • Architect: Emile Gruwe
  • Floors: 6
  • Style: Renaissance Revival
  • New York City Landmark: 1990 (Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District)
Evelyn Apartments Suggested Reading
  • The New York Times article
  • NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report (page 93) (This is part of the 4-volume report for the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District)

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Church of the Incarnation

Church of the Incarnation and the adjoining H. Percy Silver Parish House (originally a rectory) have served the Murray Hill neighborhood for a century and a half, rebuilt after a serious fire in 1882. The rectory got a new facade in 1906, and was converted to a parish house in 1934.

Apart from the building’s longevity and classical design, the church is significant for its works of art: Stained glass windows, murals and sculpture by John LaFarge, Louis C. Tiffany, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Christopher LaFarge, Daniel Chester French, Henry Hobson Richardson and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The church’s website includes a virtual tour of the artwork. The Wikipedia entry also contains a list of the artworks and artists.

Several architects were involved in the church and parish house. Emlen Littell designed the original church; David Jardine designed the restoration (after the 1882 fire), which slightly modified the original plans; Heins & LaFarge designed the spire that was added in 1896. (A spire was part of Littell’s original plans, but not built.) The rectory (later parish house) has been attributed to Robert Mook, but may have actually been designed by Littell. In any case, the facade was rebuilt in 1806 in the design by Edward Pearce Casey – switching from Victorian Gothic to neo-Jacobean style.

Church of the Incarnation Vital Statistics
  • Location: 205 Madison Avenue at E35th Street
  • Year completed: 1864 (church), 1868 (parish house)
  • Architect: Emlen T. Littell (church), Robert Mook (parish house)
  • Style: Gothic Revival (church), Renaissance Revival (parish house)
  • New York City Landmark: 1979
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1982
Church of the Incarnation Suggested Reading

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Greeley Square Building

Greeley Square Building was designed by Gronenberg & Leuchtag, prolific architects who specialized in residential projects in New York City. The Renaissance Revival-style office building is attractive and prominent, one block south of Greeley Square, but by no means famous. But it does point to a minor mystery.

The firm of Gronenberg & Leuchtag filed 309 new building applications in New York City between 1910 and 1931, according to the Office of Metropolitan History new buildings database (based on NYC Department of Buildings records). As mentioned, the company specialized in residential buildings, but also designed hotels, commercial office buildings, lofts, houses of worship, theaters, even Turkish baths.

Yet there doesn’t seem to be a real record of the architects. No books, no Wikipedia entry, no website pages about Gronenberg & Leuchtag. Lots of complimentary references to the firm in listings and articles about G & L buildings – references to “the famed Gronenberg & Leuchtag,” and “the prolific Gronenberg & Leuchtag,” but no articles (that I could find with Google) about the Gronenberg & Leuchtag firm or its principals. The most that I could find, in several hours of online research, was this paragraph from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Grand Concourse Historic District Designation Report:

Herman Gronenberg and Albert J. H. Leuchtag formed a successful architectural partnership and were active in the first decades of the 20th century. The firm specialized in the design of apartment buildings and examples of their work can be seen in the Upper East Side and Extension, Expanded Carnegie Hill, NoHo, and Greenwich Village Historic Districts. Gronenberg died in 1931 and five years later the New York Times announced that A. J. H. Leuchtag had resumed the practice of architecture. In the Grand Concourse Historic District the firm designed five apartment buildings.

So today’s puzzle: How can architects who averaged a new building application every 25 days for 21 years remain so invisible? If you know the answer, please let me know. Thank you!

Greeley Square Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 875 Sixth Avenue / 101 W31st Street
  • Year completed: 1927
  • Architect: Gronenberg & Leuchtag
  • Floors: 25
  • Style: Renaissance Revival
Greeley Square Building Suggested Reading

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Gouverneur Court

Gouverneur Court is the old Gouverneur Hospital, erected in 1897 to serve immigrants on the Lower East Side. It has been modified several times, including the addition of a fifth floor in 1930. In the 1960s the hospital was converted to a school for special needs children. A botched restoration in the 1980s was repaired in 1992-93. Gouverneur Court is now assisted living housing for low income and special needs residents.

(Gouverneur Court was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, with an estimated $150,000 in damage.)

The building has been wrapped in a cocoon of regulations and financing agreements to prevent conversion to condos.

The property seems well maintained – even the ubiquitous cell phone transmitters have been painted brick red, to blend in better. But the south wing seems to have been restored (or originally built?) with less terra cotta detailing than the north wing. Compare the way that the windows are arched and trimmed.

The building’s South Street facade is the most picturesque, with two wings of tiered, curved, iron rail-enclosed verandahs.

Gouverneur Court Vital Statistics
  • Location: 621 Water Street at Gouverneur Street
  • Year completed: 1897
  • Architect: John Rochester Thomas
  • Floors: 6
  • Style: Renaissance
  • National Register of Historic Places: Oct. 29, 1982
Gouverneur Court Suggested 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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