Three FDNY Firehouses, Including Two in the Bronx and One in Queens, Two Hotels and a Former Bank in Manhattan Are Symbols of New York City’s Rapid Growth at the Start of the 20th Century.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission today unanimously gave landmark status to three firehouses, two hotels and a former bank, citing their architectural distinction and important roles they played in the City during a period of intense growth shortly after the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898.
The new landmarks include three City firehouses that remain in use: Engine Company 41 (now Engine Company/Squad 41) at 330 E. 150th Street in the South Melrose section of the Bronx, Engine Company 83, Hook & Ladder Company 29, at 618 East 138th Street in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, Engine Company 305, Hook & Ladder Company 151 at 111-02 Queens Blvd in the Forest Hills section of Queens; two Manhattan hotels that remain in use: the Martha Washington Hotel at 30 East 30th St. and the Hotel Mansfield at 12 West 44th St., and the former Yorkville Bank at 1511 Third Avenue in Manhattan.
“All of these buildings illustrate how far New York City had come by the start of the 20th century and signaled the promising direction in which it was headed,” said Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney. “We are grateful for the support that each of the designations has received from the owners of these buildings, in particular from FDNY Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano, for the Department’s continued stewardship of its historic firehouses, which are among New York City’s finest expressions of civic character.”
Descriptions of the newly designated landmarks follow below:
Engine Company 41 (now Engine Company/Squad 41) at 330 E. 150th Street, the Bronx
Located between Courtlandt and Morris avenues in the South Melrose section of the Bronx and completed in 1903, Engine Company/Squad 41 was one of the first firehouses constructed in the Bronx following the consolidation of the City’s five boroughs in 1898 and a tremendous increase in population.
The Renaissance Revival style three-story building was completed in 1903 and was one of seven designed by Alexander Stevens, the FDNY’s superintendent of buildings as part of a building campaign by the City to expand the delivery of municipal services. Stevens followed the pattern established by Napoleon LeBrun & Son, the noted architectural firm which designed 42 firehouses for the Department between 1880 and 1895.
Engine Company 41’s facade is comprised of three bays and faced in ashlar limestone on the first story and most of the second story, with brick above. A stone eagle and a recessed panel filled with shields, swags and medallions surmount the building’s central arched opening,
The Fire Department in 1990 designated the firehouse as a squad, a category of emergency responders with specialized expertise that responds to more and higher levels of alarms outside its immediate service area. The company lost six firefighters in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center.
“It’s an honor for the Commission to extend its protection to a firehouse that has for more than a century protected its immediate neighborhood as well as the rest of the City,” said Chairman Tierney.
Engine Company 83, Hook & Ladder Company 29, 618 East 138th St., the Bronx
Located between St. Anns and Cypress avenues in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx and completed in 1905, Engine Company 83, Hook & Ladder Company 29 was one of numerous municipal buildings constructed throughout the City following the consolidation of all five boroughs in 1898.
The Neo-Classical style two-story firehouse was designed by Robert D. Kohn, one of only a
handful of American architects who produced designs between 1904 and 1915 that were
influenced by the Viennese Secessionist
Movement. Kohn’s other commissions include the New York Evening Post Building at 20 Vesey Street in Manhattan, the Spero Building at 23 West 21st Street in Manhattan and the New York Society for Ethical Culture at 2 West 64th Street in Manhattan, all of which are landmark buildings.
Kohn, a founder and president of the New York Building Congress, was the director of the housing division of the Public Works Administration from 1933 to 1934 and vice president of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. His later commissions included additions to the R.H. Macy & Co. Department Store at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue and the Auerbach & Sons factory at 628- 644 11th Avenue.
Engine Company 38, an early example of a two-vehicular bay-firehouse, which served for the next 25 years as the prototype for firehouse design, is clad with salmon-colored brick with a three-bay limestone enframement on the first floor and a bracketed terra cotta cornice. The subtle references to the Vienna Secession include the concave segmental arches of the enframement, the entablatures of the central pedestrian entrance and the terminating elements of the roof parapet.
“It’s an imposing, though elegant, building with subtle references to an architectural style that’s rare in New York City,” said Chairman Tierney.
Engine Company 304, Hook & Ladder Company 151, 111-02 Queens Blvd, Queens
Located at the corner of 75th Avenue in the Forest Hills section of Queens and completed in 1924, Engine Company 304, Hook & Ladder Company 151 was built to serve the growing population of the neighborhood, which saw a residential construction boom post World War I.
The Neo-Medieval style two and 2 1⁄2-story firehouse was attributed to John R. Sliney, the Fire Department’s head building inspector who oversaw the construction of 70 firehouses throughout the city between 1906 and 1933.
Engine Company 304, Hook & Ladder Company 151 represented a departure from its flat-roofed, rectangular-shaped contemporaries that predominated firehouse construction at the time. The firehouse, whose motto is “Pride of the Hills,” is an asymmetrically massed red brick building that’s accentuated by steep gables clad with copper standing-seam roofs, prominent square towers (including a stair tower and a hose-drying tower) featuring round-arched window openings and a slender chimney rising nearly a story above the west side of the building.
“The design of this unusual firehouse is more suggestive of a church than a civic building,” said Chairman Tierney. “It stands out as much as it blends into one of the city’s most picturesque neighborhoods, and has barely changed in the 90 years it’s been standing.”
Martha Washington Hotel (now King & Grove Hotel), 30 East 30th Street, Manhattan
Located between Park and Madison avenues and completed in 1903, the Martha Washington Hotel was the first hotel constructed in New York City for professional women, who were arriving in the city in greater numbers, but had limited residential options.
The Renaissance Revival style 12-story building was designed by Robert W. Gibson, an important English-born architect who specialized in ecclesiastical and commercial buildings. His other noteworthy commissions include the West End Collegiate Church and School, at 77th Street and West End Avenue in Manhattan, the Church Missions House at 281 Park Avenue South in Manhattan, and the Cartier building, originally the Morton F. and Nellie Plant House, at 651 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, all of which are New York City landmarks.
Unlike their male counterparts, most women in the workforce at the turn of the 20th century lived either at home or in boarding houses, prompting the development of the hotel, which was originally called the Women’s Hotel. It was fully occupied when it opened, and featured single rooms and apartments, as well as such amenities as a tailor shop, drug store, a shoe polishing parlor, private dining room and a restaurant that was open to the public.
The brick and limestone building was located in an area of Manhattan between Fifth and Sixth avenues where hotel construction had mushroomed because of access to transportation, shopping and entertainment. It has facades on 29th and 30th streets that feature prominent quoins, Palladian windows, splayed lintels with keystones and balconnettes with narrow iron railings.
It was renamed the Martha Washington Hotel in 1920 and remained a women’s hotel until 1998. It was the location for the film “Valley of the Dolls,” and was once the headquarters of the Women’s Suffrage Council. “For decades this striking building provided a comfortable, safe living situation for single women who were pioneers in the workforce and played an important role in New York City’s economic development,” said Chairman Tierney.
Hotel Mansfield (now the Mansfield Hotel), 12 West 44th St., Manhattan Located between Fifth and Sixth avenues on West 44th Street and completed in 1902, the Hotel Mansfield shares the same block with many other prestigious New York City landmarks, including the New York Yacht Club, the Algonquin Hotel, the New York Bar Association, the former Mechanics’ and Tradesmen’s Institute the Harvard Club and the former Yale Club, now the Penn Club, all of which are individual New York City landmarks.
The Beaux-Arts style 12-story building was designed by Renwick, Aspinwall & Owen, a successor firm to the one established by James Renwick, Jr., the renowned architect responsible for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Grace Church and the original Smithsonian building and the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., among many others.
The hotel is an early example of the apartment hotel in New York City and catered to well-heeled single men and childless couples, who resided there temporarily or permanently. The hotel originally had 14 large suites on the 2nd to 12th floors and two penthouse suites and offered common dining rooms, valets, maid and laundry services and private physicians. The building was renovated in 1995 and converted into a “boutique” hotel, now known as the Mansfield Hotel.
The building is arranged in an H-plan with two light courts, and features a two-story rusticated limestone base, bold ornament such as quoins, cartouches, garlands and swags, as well as a heavy balcony supported on paired modillions beneath a copper cornice. It is topped by a curving mansard roof with three, large segmental-arch dormers.
“This building is a significant example of an ornate, early 20th century Beaux-Arts style hotel that remains an imposing presence among the other heavyweights on the block,” said Chairman Tierney.
Yorkville Bank, 1511 Third Avenue, at 85th Street An Italian Renaissance Revival structure, the four- story Yorkville Bank building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was built in 1905, and later expanded in 1924.
The Yorkville Bank first opened in a leased building near the current site in 1893, around the time when Yorkville started attracting waves of German, Hungarian and Czechoslovakian immigrant families who had moved from the crowded tenements of the Lower East Side. The bank’s founders included Oswald Ottendorfer, publisher of the city’s dominant German-language newspaper, the Staats-Zeitung, and Jacob Ruppert, Jr., son of the owner of the Jacob Ruppert Brewery and later owner of the Yankees.
The bank commissioned Robert Maynicke, a German-born architect who was responsible for the design of the landmark Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery, to design the dignified granite, limestone, brick and terra-cotta corner building. It was expanded in 1924 by architect P. Gregory Stadler with the addition of 1 1⁄2 bays on both street facades and designed to blend seamlessly with the existing structure, resulting in a palazzo-style building. Stadler worked mostly in the Bronx, and his most noteworthy commission was the still-standing Bronx County Trust Co. building.
The Yorkville Bank building consists of tall arched openings on the ground floor of both facades, terra cotta window surrounds ornamented with pediments, bold cornices at the first and fourth stories and cast-bronze entrance doors with panels depicting Classical allegorical figures and motifs.
“This building, both in terms of its styles and materials, is an enduring symbol of the time when Yorkville was largely a German-American community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” said Chairman Tierney.
The bank merged with Manufacturer’s Trust Company in 1925, which sold the building in 1988. It’s currently owned by 1511 Third Ave. Associates, LLC, and its tenants include the Equinox Fitness Club and Gap clothing company.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 29,000 buildings and sites, including 1,313 individual landmarks, 114 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, 107 historic districts and 17 historic district extensions in all five boroughs. Under the City’s landmarks law, considered among the most powerful in the nation, the Commission must be comprised of at least three architects, a historian, a realtor, a planner or landscape architect, as well as a representative of each borough.