The American Telephone & Telegraph Company Building is an important example of early-twentieth-century Greek-inspired neo-Classical design. Envisioned by company president Theodore Newton Vail as a grand corporate symbol, this granite-clad building was designed to create an impression of quality, durability, and permanence expressive of the Telephone Company’s commitment to public service. Inspired by classical Greek and Roman models, the architect created a restrained design incorporating eight three-story high Ionic colonnades stacked on a double-height base of colossal columns copied from the Doric order of the Athenian Parthenon.
The first floor was designed to create an impression of quality, durability, and permanence expressive of the Telephone Company’s commitment to public service. Inspired by classical Greek and Egyptian temple designs, the lobby is treated as a grand hypostyle hall with forty massive marble columns, walls and floors clad in marble, and a polychrome coffered ceiling. This interior melds art with architecture through its incorporation of classically-inspired marble friezes of putti carrying garlands by the renowned sculptors Paul Manship and Gaston Lachaise.
STATUS Designated Exterior and Interior Landmark
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society