Francis Martin Branch Library, Bronx, NY

 The Francis Martin Branch of the New York Public Library is a surprisingly prominent building, occupying a curved stretch of University Avenue across from Bronx Community College. The building’s design works with the curve, stretching its length with a prominent wall of glass block in the center of the facade. There is minimal detail other than a doorway inset next to the glass block and rows of metal casement windows.

The construction of this branch, to replace a previous University Heights location, started in 1956 and the building was dedicated in 1958. The branch was renovated by 1100 Architect in 2008, primarily the second floor children’s reading room.









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Cruger Avenue Synagogue, Bronx, NY

This synagogue from 1964 sits off Pelham Parkway surrounded by earlier brick apartment buildings and homes. Today it seems largely empty although possibly still in use. There are a number of former or abandoned synagogues in the area as the demographics of this part of the Bronx has changed.

Also called Congregation Kehal Adath, the building is clad in a thin stone veneer and dark brown brick. An expansive site with the entrance set back. The street wall includes marble Judaica and a brick wall planter.

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Saints Peter and Paul Church, Beaver, PA


An amazingly dynamic form, this church jumps out at you along 3rd Street in the small town of Beaver, PA. It was built in 1970-72 to accommodate a growing parish. Not sure who the architect was but it’s more striking than many of the Formalist modern churches of Pittsburgh so it would be interesting to know if it is a local or regional architect.





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Immaculate Conception Spiritual Renewal Center, Thompson, CT


This convent and retreat center was built in 1954 for the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a historically Lithuanian order. As such, the complex is dedicated to Our Lady of Siluva, and a statue of her sits in a shrine outside the chapel. The small circle on the pillar holding the statue incorporates a piece of stone from the site where Our Lady of Siluva first appeared in Lithuania.


The Center is what could be termed Catholic Modern, many times consisting of an exterior treatment of light colored brick with limestone or concrete details on window and door surrounds. It was likely designed by one of the many regional firms working for the Catholic church, based in Worcester or Providence, but it also could have been an architect with knowledge of Lithuanian architecture. Jonas Mulokas was one such architect who designed Lithuanian Catholic churches in Chicago, New York City, and Saint Louis.


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New York State Police Troop NYC, Wards Island, NYC


The headquarters of the New York State Police in New York City is located on Wards Island. The two-story building is uniform in design with a three bay entrance and rows of triple hung windows above blue enamel panels. There is a granite foundation including a cornerstone inscribed to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was in office when the building was built in 1961. The design of the administration building is standard for this era and is similar in style to numerous schools and government buildings that dot the region. Thanks to reader Gabriella G. for sending this entry along!img_0936

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St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church, Union City, NJ


We have not posted in a while, but this submission from reader Craig N. was too good to pass up. Thanks, Craig!

St. Augustine RC Church was constructed in 1956-58 by Arthur Rigolo. He was based in New Jersey and designed schools, offices, homes, and several other noteworthy churches. His churches were featured prominently and received awards from the Church Architecture Guild of America, the Joint Conference on Church Architecture, New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Church Property Administration Magazine. One of his earlier churches was even featured in Time Magazine in an article about church construction.

St Augustine is sited on a narrow lot and features a sharply angled roof with prominent stained glass by Hiemer & Company. The roof originally featured polychromatic terra cotta tiles and there was a central entrance stair which has been replaced by a ramp. Still, its design is striking and a lesser known example of early Catholic modernism in the Newark area. Docomomo US has a full description and survey of the building on their Register.



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Bender Building, Washington, DC

img_6712With facades facing S St, 18th St, and Connecticut Avenue NW, the L-shaped Bender Building is a stylish and subtle early modern landmark. Constructed in 1959, the 12 story building was a leader in showcasing modern office space in downtown DC. Pioneering modernists Berla and Abel were the architects, who employed several other individuals that would go on the be leading modern architects in the area.


Although the interiors have been updated, the exterior retains original finishes. The building is primarily yellow brick with window bays alternating with pale green ceramic tiles. The entrance treatment employs vertically striped panels above a brown metal awning on S Street, but has been modernized on the Connecticut Avenue side. At 18th and S is the entrance to the building’s parking garage and there is a concrete block screen and vertical metal fins employed to set off this part of the structure.



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