Decker Building (aka Union Building) is a delight to look at, and fascinating in its history. The white, 12-story limestone and brick facade is lavishly decorated with lacy terra cotta patterns. The windows – some with Venetian-style Juliet balconies – are elaborate works of art in themselves. And the two-story tower, once topped by a minaret, is filled with Moorish ogee (horseshoe) arches.
As befits such a radical building, the Decker Building was designed by John Edelmann, a Cleveland, Ohio-born anarchist so radical that he was expelled from the Socialist Labor Party. At the time, Edelmann was working for New York architect Alfred Zucker. (Louis H. Sullivan, a much more prominent architect, credited his success to Edelmann.)
The original owner, and tenant until 1913, was The Decker Piano Company. The building was then acquired (and renamed Union Square Building) by Lowenfeld & Prager, which traded the property in 1916. In more recent years, The Union Building reverted to The Decker Building. Andy Warhol’s second “Factory” was located on the sixth floor from 1968 to 1974. This is where, in 1968, playwright Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol and art critic Mario Amaya.
The building was sold in foreclosure in 1994 to Windsor Construction Company; architect Joseph Pell Lombardi oversaw restoration of the facade. The building now houses a ground floor store and 18 residential units.
Decker Building Vital Statistics
- Location: 33 Union Square West
- Year completed: 1893
- Architect: John H. Edelmann
- Floors: 12
- Style: Moorish Revival and Venetian
- New York City Landmark: 1988
- National Register of Historic Places: 2003
Decker Building Recommended Reading
- Wikipedia entry
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report
- The New York Times Streetscapes 33 Union Square West; Islamic/Venetian Sliver, With Minaret (December 18, 1994)
- Daytonian in Manhattan blog
- Ephemeral New York blog
- Complex City Guide article