Thanks for reading Mid-Century Mundane in 2014! This will be the last post for the year. There will be much more mid-century architecture to feature in 2015 including the launch of a new project, Queens Modern! So stay tuned for more exciting news and in the meantime happy holidays to all!
For this last post of 2014, we are featuring a historicist Roman Catholic church on lower Park Avenue. The Church of Our Saviour exemplifies the continued interest and use of historical design styles even during the mid-century. The building was built in 1955-57 and is designed in the French Romanesque style, using traditional materials and a wealth of traditional style carvings throughout the design. The facade is most likely limestone and the roof is red tile with a copper steeple. Unlike many churches of the era, there seems to be no attempt at modernizing of detailing or use of modern materials. The bell tower does hold air conditioning equipment, a nod to the era this was built. Even then air conditioning was not typical in all new churches.
Just a block away is the Community Church of New York, built almost ten years early but in a much more modern and simplified style. The comparison between the two is striking and only further highlights the traditional look of Our Saviour.
This church was designed by Paul C. Reilly, an architect perhaps known more for his theater design, having worked for the prolific designer Thomas Lamb. But Reilly did do several buildings for the New York Catholic Diocese, including the Church of the Good Shepherd in Inwood. The interior here is surprisingly ornate with a lovely coffered ceiling and richly colored artwork behind the altar.
Just a block and a half away from our previously-featured synagogue is Cornerstone Baptist Church. The church’s actual cornerstone is engraved with the date 1966. According to the church website, this building replaced a Victorian Gothic/Queen Anne structure although it doesn’t clarify why the older structure was demolished. The A-frame design of this building is typical of suburban style churches of the era. The front window is broken up into multiple panes in a reference to stained glass although here the class is clear. Unusually, a tall brick chimney runs up the front of the building, possibly a later addition.
This modest synagogue in the small village of Danielson fits well into its natural surroundings with its exterior walls covered in local fieldstone. The synagogue was constructed from 1951-1961 for the small but growing Jewish community of Danielson, many of whom were recent immigrants and Holocaust survivors when the synagogue was planned.
The architect was William Riseman, a prominent Boston-based architect whose parents lived nearby and were members of the congregation. Riseman’s mother donated the fieldstone that covers the concrete walls of the structure. Towards the end of construction the congregation hired Maurice Finegold, who was just graduating from Harvard, to help design the interior spaces including the sanctuary.
Most of this information was taken from the nomination that was written for listing the synagogue on the National Register of Historic Places, which happened in 2013. Much more fascinating history is included in the nomination form.
This Firestone dealer is located on 124 Congress Street in Troy. The exact date of construction is unclear but the first reference to Firestone at this location is 1959. The design is simpler than this extant Firestone in New Haven, CT from 1962. The flat roof is at a slight incline and projects out over the floor to ceiling glass windows of the showroom. The aluminum trim remains intact and there is a nice bit of tile detailing in red and white between the two glass bays.
The garage facility and rear of the showroom is brick.
The town of Troy, NY does not have much mid-century architecture to ponder. The town proper is more well-known for its extremely intact Victorian era downtown and neighboring residential areas, some of which were used in place of Gilded Age New York City for Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Age of Innocence. At the corner of State Street and Third Street is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, with its amazing Tiffany interior.
Behind it on State Street is St. Anthony of Padua Shrine Church from 1964. This mid-century church is clad in orange brick with abstract stained or colored glass windows and the image of St. Anthony above the entrance in marble. The interior is relatively restrained. The church also features a few other nice original details like the unusual door handles at the entrance.
Next to the church is the earlier St. Anthony School, dating from 1956 and an auditorium and friary that most likely date to that time. All are clad in similar brick and have aluminum and limestone trim.
In this image of St. Anthony School, St. Paul’s tower can be seen in the background.
The neighboring Rev. Thomas A. Deluca auditorium. Note the original projecting flat entrance roof and the glass corridor connecting it to the school, fronted by a statue of St. Anthony of Padua.
The friary behind the school and next to the church.
This unique Howard Johnson’s Restaurant dates to 1962, and was a more unusual sight compared to HoJo’s typical peaked roof and weathervane design. It is unclear if this was done by go-to architects, Rufus Nims and Karl Koch.
The building’s fortunes followed the general decline of Asbury Park and it was largely abandoned in the early 2000s. It subsequently was stripped on the interior while leaving the exterior intact. Today it is the popular McLoone’s Asbury Grille.
The Empress Hotel is a well-known landmark on the Asbury Park boardwalk. Originally built in 1961, the hotel has great mid-century details including the signature signage. Like the Asbury Park waterfront in general, the Empress followed the general decline of the area, closing in the late 1980s. A strip club opened in the 1990s but eventually the building was abandoned. Music producer Shep Pettibone bought the building in 1998 and completely restored the complex, adding the Paradise Nightclub to the establishment (see photo below).
The blue panels above the Paradise Nightclub are also a very nice mid-century detail although more often seen on office buildings than hotels.
Closeup of the colorful mosaic tile next to the entrance