Tag Archives: romanesque revival

311 Amsterdam Avenue

311 Amsterdam Avenue

311 Amsterdam Avenue, aka The Wachusett, was built in 1889 as flats. Architect Edward L. Angell designed the five-story brick building in Romanesque Revival style, with Queen Anne embellishments.

According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, the structure has masonry bearing walls. (Since the advent of modern iron, steel, and concrete frames, brick is usually used only to seal and decorate the facade.)

The building was converted to condominiums in 2006.

311 Amsterdam Avenue Vital Statistics
311 Amsterdam Avenue Recommended Reading

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244 W 23 Street

244 W 23 Street

244 W 23 Street shows the versatility of brick, which mimicks rough-cut stone on lower floors and forms fluted pilasters on upper floors. The builder went to the expense (according to Daytonian in Manhattan) to use carved stone instead of terra cotta to ornament the facade. Sadly, subsequent owners splashed red paint over the whole facade – covering some of the stonework and all of the mortar lines.

The building was converted to co-op apartments in 1982, ending a colorful commercial history. In its first 82 years the building was home to a publisher, a filmmaker, an art school, a piano factory and more, according to the Daytonian in Manhattan blog.*

244 W 23 Street Vital Statistics
244 W 23 Street Recommended Reading

* Daytonian in Manhattan – one of my favorite resources – is the work of Tom Miller, assisted by photographer Alice Lum. If you enjoy his blog, you’ll love his book: “Seeking New York.” In it, you’ll find the human stories behind 54 historic Manhattan buildings, mostly seldom-profiled pieces of architecture.

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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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Edgewater Village Hall

Edgewater Village Hall is, in the words of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, “a superb example of Victorian architecture.” When built, the structure housed courts and other civic functions of the Village of Edgewater – long before Staten Island became part of New York City.

The windows and doors are exceptional. The paired ground-floor windows and doors have semicircular transoms under keystone arches. The second-story dormers are cut into the cornice line, and project out from the facade. Stained-glass transoms top the double-hung sashes.

Tappen Park, the building’s setting, was originally Washington Square. It was renamed in honor of World War I veteran James Tappen in 1934.

Edgewater Village Hall Vital Statistics
Edgewater Village Hall Recommended Reading

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Schermerhorn Building

The New York Community Trust landmark plaque says of the Schermerhorn Building: “This six-story building, erected in 1888 for William C. Schermerhorn, is one of New York’s outstanding manufacturing structures of the period. It demonstrated that a utilitarian building could have real artistic merit and need not be devoid of ornament. Its particular distinction lies in its rhythmic composition and in the interesting brick and sandstone detail. The architect was Henry Janeway Hardenbergh who also designed the Hotel Plaza, the Dakota Apartments and the American Fine Arts Society Building.”

(And while you’re in the neighborhood, don’t miss the landmark 1898 firehouse on the next block [east].)

Schermerhorn Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 380 Lafayette Street at Great Jones Street
  • Year completed: 1888
  • Architect: Henry Janeway Hardenbergh
  • Floors: 6
  • Style: Romanesque Revival
  • New York City Landmark: 1966
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1979
Schermerhorn Building Suggested 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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Ahrens Building

Ahrens Building is an early example of Romanesque Revival adapted to a steel-frame building, designed by George H. Griebel. Its design blends polychrome brick, terra cotta and metal over a limestone base (though the limestone is largely obscured by the current storefront).

Small by today’s standards, the Ahrens Building was just over the six-story height common for the day, and included an elevator.

Herman F. Ahrens, the owner, was a liquor merchant who had his own store – and later a saloon – on the ground floor; offices occupied the upper floors.

The Ahrens Building is surrounded by the much larger L-shaped Hungerford Building (now NYU’s Lafayette Hall), built in 1914.

Ahrens Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 70 Lafayette Street at Franklin Street
  • Year completed: 1896
  • Architect: George H. Griebel
  • Floors: 7
  • Style: Romanesque Revival
  • New York City Landmark: 1992
Ahrens Building Suggested Reading

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Roosevelt Building

You’d think that the Roosevelt Building would be a NYC landmark, since it was actually in the Roosevelt family, had a famous movie studio tenant, and exceptional architecture. But it isn’t. Yet?

Teddy Roosevelt’s grandfather, Cornelius, owned the land under this building until his death in 1871. His heirs built the building as the neighborhood changed from residential to commercial. For a time, the structure was known as the Hackett Carhart Building, for a major tenant.

While most of the early tenants – including Hackett Carhart – were men’s wear manufacturers, Biograph Studios also had space here, and a revolving (to follow the sun) studio on the roof. This is where director D.W. Griffith got his start.

Roosevelt Building Vital Statistics
  • Location: 841 Broadway at E 13th Street
  • Year completed: 1894
  • Architect: Stephen D. Hatch
  • Floors: 8
  • Style: Romanesque Revival
Roosevelt Building Suggested Reading

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The Wilbraham

The Wilbraham is a rare species: a “bachelor apartment hotel,” or “bachelor flats.” In the late 1800s, New York City had an unusually large concentration of single men. Yet bachelors were outcasts, of sorts, in the housing market: They couldn’t afford to live in rowhouses or hotels and were considered awkward in family-oriented apartment buildings (“French flats”) or apartment hotels. Bachelor flats were apartment hotels (each apartment included a suite of rooms with bathroom but no kitchen – a separate dining room served all residents) exclusively for single men.

The Wilbraham was considered among the most fashionable of bachelor flats, with its Fifth Avenue location, elegant architecture and amenities – including an elevator.

By 1929 the building had become a normal apartment hotel – women outnumbered men 15-10 according to the census. In 1934, new owners added kitchens to some of the apartments. Subsequent renovations converted the dining room and penthouse servants quarters to full apartments, as well.

The bottom two floors have always been a store.

The Wilbraham Vital Statistics
The Wilbraham Recommended Reading

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Engine 39 / Ladder 16

The Fire Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Station House originally served as the headquarters of the New York Fire Department. It’s the third of four late-1880s landmarks in a row on E 67th Street.*

Napoleon Lebrun & Son, which designed more than 40 buildings for the department, designed this one in Romanesque Revival style. While Lebrun’s design included space for the Fire Commissioners and staff, the headquarters outgrew its space and moved to the Municipal Building in 1914. The fire telegraph (communications system) moved out in 1922. A lookout tower once topped the building’s right-hand bay (the section with single windows) – but was removed in 1949. The building became a training center, but by 1970 the city had planned to demolish the building. In 1980 the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building as one of four landmarks on the block – but the Board of Estimate overturned the designation (and that of the adjoining police station). In the end, compromise: The facades of the fire house and police station were preserved and restored (1992), but new structures were built behind the 1880s face. The police precinct now uses the upper floors of the fire station.

(Unconfirmed scuttlebutt has it that “some 3 letter agency” operates/operated out of the building, which is directly across the street from an Eastern-bloc mission. Keep that under your hat.)

You might also enjoy Napoleon LeBrun’s Engine Company 31 on Lafayette Street, in a different architectural style – considered his most flamboyant fire house design.

*The four E 67th Street landmarks are: Mount Sinai Dispensary (now Kennedy Child Study Center) at 149; 19th (originally 25th) Police Precinct at 153; Engine Company 39/Ladder Company 16 Station House at 157; and Park East Synagogue, 163.

Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Vital Statistics
Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Recommended Reading

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