The Mount Morris Bank Building, one of the most impressive buildings in Harlem, is prominently situated at the northwest corner of East 125th Street (the major commercial artery of Harlem) and Park Avenue, immediately adjacent to the 125th Street station of the New York Central Railroad (now Metro North).
An excellent example of a structure that combines Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival architectural features, the building was designed by the architectural firm of Lamb & Rich, a partnership responsible for several important buildings in Harlem, as well as notable buildings in other neighborhoods. The boldly massed structure of Philadelphia brick and red sandstone, built in two sections–the first in 1883-84, the second in 1889-90–has superb terra-cotta and iron detail. The building originally housed the Mount Morris Bank and the Mount Morris Safe Deposit Company at the basement and first story, with an apartment house called “The Morris” containing six French flats on the upper stories.
By the early twentieth century only the Mount Morris Bank occupied the lower level and the upper floors had been converted to office use. The Mount Morris Bank, organized in 1880, rapidly grew into an important Harlem financial institution, surviving as an independent entity until 1913 when it became part of the Corn Exchange Bank. Following the Corn Exchange Bank’s merger with Chemical Bank in 1954, the building continued to be occupied as a branch bank until the mid-1960s. The building has been vacant since the late 1970s.
STATUS Designated Individual 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