Wurts Bros., 38 Bleecker Street. St. Barnabas Home, birds-eye view. From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York. http://bit.ly/1GeVFwR
Mundane Mondays is back! Today’s entry comes from reader Kerri C. who laments the loss of 304 Mulberry Street, the former St. Barnabas Home. Built by the New York Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society in 1947, the building was designed by little known architect H. M. Cole. He also did small commercial stores, restaurants, and warehouses around the city, almost all of which have vanished.
Wurts Bros. 38 Bleecker Street. St. Barnabas Home, Mulberry Street front. From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.
Originally showing a strong International influence with horizontal window bands on each floor and a rooftop setback with prominent overhang. Over the past decades the building has been heavily modified to remove most of its modernist touches (recent images below). And recently demolition plans have been announced. Let’s take a last look at what was once a nicely contributing building.
The main branch of the Worcester Public Library is a long formal building with an odd orientation and location. It is situated behind City Hall at the intersection of Library Lane and the one-block long Salem Street; the main entrance faces a large parking lot.
The style is reminiscent of Edward Durell Stone with regularly spaced thin columns and a flat classical roofline. The entrance pavilion has been altered over the years but on one side, the arcade running along the exterior and holding up the second floor can be seen.
The architects were actually the New York office of Curtis and Davis, the prominent New Orleans-based firm that existed from 1947-1978. The project was announced in 1959 and completed in 1964. The building was renovated in the 200os and the original rough finish on the exterior concrete was eliminated, heightening the formality of the design.
There is also a newer addition of orange and tan stone at one end of the library (the edge of which can be seen in the photo above).
There is always something new to see in Lower Manhattan, especially with the constant construction. I recently “discovered” 100 Trinity Place, now the High School of Economics and Finance. But looking closely, the shadow of the building’s previous owner, NYU, is still visible on the facade.
This was built as NYU’s Graduate School of Business Administration and opened on January 27, 1960, according to The New York Times. It was designed by the prolific firm of Skidmore Owings & Merrill. Previously the graduate school had been next door at 90 Trinity in an 1870s, four-story building that was originally the Trinity School. Just a year after completing the 100 Trinity Place building, NYU noted that they wanted to replace 90 Trinity as well. And by 1969, a new 14 story building also designed by SOM and specifically architect Roy Allen, was in the works. It opened in the early 1970s in a stripped-down corporate style.
100 Trinity is a relatively unrelieved design with few windows and a flat gray brick cladding. The street wall is enlivened by a yellow brick wall at street level topped by clerestory windows.
This church was built by local Hudson Valley architect William van Benschoten. According to The New York Times, van Benschoten died on April 1, 1968 so this church precedes that date, although it is unclear by how long. The architect consulted for the New York Episcopal Diocese and has at least one other extant church to his credit, as well as several modern houses in the region. Christ the King is one of his most contemporary and spartan designs, with no exterior decoration of note.
I was saddened to hear that New York-based architect Jordan Gruzen died in January 2015. Gruzen’s work as part of the partnership of Kelly & Gruzen informed much of my interest in mid-century and modern architecture in the New York region. Their work is the epitome of what I was looking at when starting Mid-Century Mundane, the interesting and engaging modern architecture that contributes to our streetscapes and cities but is generally less well-known.
This site featured just a few of Kelly & Gruzen’s designs and the Queens Modern website will feature at least one award-winning synagogue in the Rockaways. I’ve noted that several of their designs are credited to George Shimamoto of both Kelly & Gruzen and the later Gruzen Partnership. I hope someone does a feature on him. There is quite a bit more of their work out there and I hope to bring it to you soon! Until then, check out some of our past features on Kelly & Gruzen:
High School of Graphic Communication Arts
The Japan Society (as the Gruzen Partnership)
Junior High School 22
The New York Buddhist Church
The history of this building is definitely more interesting than the exterior design. This was built in the late 1960s (cornerstone 1966) for Congregation Mt. Sinai. They had purchased the former Odd Fellows Hall next door at 301-309 Schermerhorn Street and added this annex. They stayed until the 1980s and the Odd Fellows Hall is now a Hare Krishna Temple, while the annex seems largely abandoned. The Brownstoner blog has a good history on the larger building in its Building of the Day column.
The annex is the simplest of buildings with brick face interspersed with what look to be flat columns of concrete or perhaps badly weathered limestone. The front steps are faced in slate. Peering through the front doors, the entry foyer has a window or door on the other side that looks out into a small courtyard space. According to a listing in The New York Times (13 Oct. 1956) the architect may have been Samuel Juster, a minor regional architect with his own Wikipedia page. This seems likely as among his other building are community buildings for Shaare Torah in Brooklyn, at least one of which shares the same restrained design of brick with concrete details. Since both buildings on Schermerhorn are being marketed as a development site and given the changes happening on all sides along this stretch in downtown Brooklyn, these buildings will be gone soon.
Image of stained glass at ground level on the Off Fellows Building, most likely added around the same time as the annex was built.
Hello Mid-Century Mundane fans,
I’m pleased to announce that Queens Modern is here! This new project is a natural progression of my interest in “everyday” mid-century architecture and focuses on a specific group of buildings for a more in-depth examination of the genre.
In 2014, I started the Queens Modern project to explore modern and mid-century architecture in Queens, NY. The subject is viewed through the lens of the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Building Awards program. From 1948-1970, the Chamber honored nearly 400 buildings of all types across the borough. The Queens Modern website features 150 of these award-winning projects, and will eventually include all award-winners from this time period as well as dozens of other Queens buildings of the era.
Visit the Queens Modern website (queensmodern.com) now to learn more!
I will still be posting regularly on Mid-Century Mundane including some cross-posts with Queens Modern, so stayed tuned for more.
Queens Modern is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Special thanks to the Queens Chamber of Commerce for their support of Queens Modern.