HDC Calls for Preservation of 3 Midtown Manhattan Rowhouses

January 7, 2008

Hon. Robert Tierney, Chair
Landmarks Preservation Commission
The Municipal Building, 9th Floor
One Centre Street
New York, NY 10007

Re: 41 West 54th Street, 46 West 55th Street and 36 West 56th Street

Dear Commissioner Tierney,

The Historic Districts Council strongly supports the consideration of the three buildings at 41 West 54th Street, 46 West 55th Street and 36 West 56th Street for designation as individual New York City landmarks. These buildings all date from the period when Midtown Manhattan was a thriving residential district, with two of them, 41 West 54th Street and 46 West 55th Street, receiving new facades in the early 20th Century when the area became fashionable for New York’s financiers and bankers.

41 West 54th Street was built in 1878 by developer James Lynd as part of a five-building row in the Neo-Grec style. In 1909, it was given a Beaux-Arts façade by architects Foster, Gade and Graham, who did several townhouse renovations in the Upper East Side as well as the individual landmark John H. and Caroline Iselin House at 59 East 79th Street.


46 West 55th Street was part of an earlier development row, dating from 1869 and originally designed by architect Thomas Thomas for the development firm of John W. Stevens & Bro. Thomas, a founder of the National Institute of Architecture (a predecessor of the American Institute of Architects) was the architect, with John Haggerty, of St. Peter’s Church (1836-1840)on lower Broadway but he was best known for his residential designs. Like 41 West 54th Street, it was given a handsome Beaux-Arts façade in 1903 by architect Edward L. Tilton, architect of the 1898 New Emigration Station at Ellis Island, in partnership with William L. Boring. In 1900, the firm was awarded the gold medal for best American architectural design at the Exposition Universalle in Paris. This building is a rare survivor of Tilton’s residential work.
36 West 56th Street, built 1881-1882, was designed by Bruce Price, architect of the landmark skyscraper American Surety Building. An architectural figure of international importance, Price is best known for his Shingle style designs in Tuxedo Park, NY, the National Historic Landmark Georgian Court in Lakewood, NJ, several stations and hotels for the Canadian Pacific railway system and several halls at Yale University. The building at 36 West 56th Street was called by Montgomery Schuyler in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine as one of the few successful applications of the Queen Anne style in New York domestic architecture. Although this building is the most altered of the three, with a front ground floor addition, the upper façade is still very much intact and retains most of Price’s façade details.

All three of these buildings have long been known by architectural historians and enthusiasts as being eminently worthy of landmark protection. They are all handsome, possess high levels of architectural integrity and are works of noted and significant architects. In fact, 41 West 54th Street was heard by the LPC for designation in 1985, along with its neighbor at 35 West 54th Street. We urge the LPC to add these three buildings to the roster of protected landmarks in Midtown Manhattan.

Sincerely,

Simeon Bankoff
Executive Director

cc:

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
Council Member Daniel Gardonick
Assembly member Richard Gottfried
State Senator Liz Kruger
Manhattan Community Board 5
Veronica Conant, West 54th – 55th Street Block Association
Posted Under: HDC, LPC, Midtown

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