Putnam Courthouse, Putnam, CT

The Putnam Courthouse, holding various court and law functions, has a classical design of the late 1940s and early 1950s, although it was actually constructed in 1966-67.  In small towns and rural areas such as where Putnam is located, it is not surprising to see earlier styles still employed. The architect was Willard Wilkins, based out of Hartford.


The design focuses on symmetry to give a more imposing quality. The facade is unified by limestone boxes around both the first and second floor windows with a central panel of black granite between them.

IMG_8945The entrance is modest with a small flat metal canopy and subtle grill work above the door. the roof is also flat with no cornice. Two prominent flagpoles extend above the building.

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Midtown Market Diner, Midtown, NYC






In advance of the Queens Modern talk in May (see previous post), I’ve been looking at some of the work Queens-based architects did in other boroughs. Here is architect Jerome W. Perlstein’s only Manhattan commission, the Midtown Market Diner from 1962.


It’s a one-story metal-framed diner with an elaborate zig zag metal canopy and dark rust-colored enamel panels. The corner multi-sided entrance is also a engaging design element.


The exterior also shows Perlstein’s interest in finishes. In addition to the enamel panels, stone veneer runs around the base of the building, a typical Perlstein addition. In Maspeth, Queens there is an extremely similar diner with blue enamel panels, but a link to Perlstein has not been verified.



The diner is at West 43rd Street and 11th Avenue, surrounded by much larger buildings. Given that the diner shares the avenue side of the block with a small outdoor nursery, it seems likely that the diner may be gone sometime soon, replaced by new development.

Posted in Manhattan, New York City, New York State | 5 Comments

Upcoming Mid-Century Mundane and Queens Modern Talks

In a change from our regular scheduled posts, I am sharing some upcoming programs where I will be speaking about Mid-Century Mundane and Queens Modern. If you are interested, I hope you’ll join me!









DOCOMOMO US National Symposium 2015: Modernism on the Prairie
Minneapolis, MN
June 4-7, 2015
Information on the Mid-Century Mundane presentation is here.



Queens Modern with Frampton Tolbert: A Modern Conversation
Knoll Showroom, NYC
May 12, 2015, 6:30pm


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Loyola School Gymnasium, Rectory, and Residence, Upper East Side, NYC

IMG_0353 Loyola School is a small, private Jesuit-led high school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The main school building is on the corner of Park Avenue and East 83rd Street. But further down the block on 83rd is a complex of buildings that Loyola built in a mid-century expansion. They all date from 1953-54. The first is the gymnasium, followed by the rectory, and additional housing.

All the buildings are clad in buff brick and exhibit almost no exterior detailing. The gymnasium includes a flat aluminum entrance canopy and polished granite columns. The metal-framed International-style windows above the entrance look to be original.

Next door is the faculty house which includes a simple granite door surround and metal type.The final building is a residential extension built in 1954. The open space between the rectory and additional is fronted at the street by a tall brick wall topped with metal security posts.


Well-known mid-century architects Eggers and Higgins designed the whole 83rd Street complex. The firm was familiar in working for Catholic organizations, having completed two Manhattan churches in the 1940s and continuing their work designing Catholic-affiliated churches, rectories, schools, and nursing homes until the late 1960s. The firm has previously been covered on Mid-Century Mundane here, here, and here.


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Kneller Athletic Center, Clark University, Worcester, MA


Located at Clark University in Worcester is the Kneller Athletic Center from 1976. The swooping roofline and pebble aggregate exterior immediately looked familiar. That’s because the firm of Daniel F. Tully Associates was responsible for its design and construction.

IMG_8245 Tully, both an engineer and architect, has long been a leader in construction of athletic facilities for schools, colleges, and universities across the US. Many of his buildings are recognizable due to their unique designs especially parabolic roofs such as the one at the Kneller Center.  The similarities to Brooklyn’s Activities Resource Center were immediately apparent, but a take on this design can also be seen at Amherst College, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Boston College to name just a few.











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Mundane Mondays: 304 Mulberry Street, NoHo, NYC

Screenshot 2015-02-12 17.30.59

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.


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Worcester Public Library, Worcester, MA

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).






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