299 Madison Avenue: now Library Hotel

( 4) 299 Madison Avenue Hill & Stout, 1912-13   Built FAR:  13.18 proposed 21.6

299 Madison Avenue
Hill and Stout, 1912-13

299 Madison Avenue sits on the northeast corner of 41st Street and Madison Avenue. Although the building has always gone by its more prestigious Madison Avenue address, the main entrance is located on the side street. The two- story terra cotta entrance surround features neo-Gothic details such as a pointed arch doorway, quatrefoil windows in the spandrel panel flanking a scroll with the the address. Above a decorative band of terra cotta, eight floors of diamond patterned brickwork rise up to another band of ornamental terra cotta. The two top floors have more simple brickwork, but the window surrounds are of terra cotta.

The Madison Avenue façade is dominated by a ten-story metal bay featuring spandrels articulated with trefoil arches. The base is full width while the diamond patterned brick walls of the upper floors flanking the metal bay set back slightly. According to Christopher Gray, the rowhouses which had originally lined the block were all set back five feet from the property line by a mutual agreement of property owners with stoops, cornices and bay windows extending into that space. Thus these domestic structures lent the taller office building its shape. The design of the top two floors carries around from the 41st Street.

Hill and Stout also designed the German American Insurance Building, a triangular tower at Maiden Lane and Liberty Street of white porcelain brick and an impressive terra cotta cornice, and the exotic Venetian Gothic palazzo for Wetzel & Company, a gentleman’s tailor at 2-4 East 44th street in 1905, both now demolished.

The building was restored and converted into the Library Hotel in 2000.

References:

Gray, Christopher, “Streetscapes/Readers’ Questions; Two Buildings with Unusual Touches, and Histories,” New York Times, December 6, 1998.

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