Designation Testimony

Testimony for Proposed 1 Wall Street Banking Room Interior Landmark


– 1 Wall Street Banking Room Interior – 1 Wall Street


The former banking hall and reception room of the Irving Trust Company at 1 Wall Street, designed in the Art Deco style by Ralph Walker in 1931 and featuring elaborate mosaic tile wall and ceiling finishes designed by Hildreth Meière, consisting of the building’s northernmost room, and its fixtures and interior components, which may include but are not limited to the historic wall surfaces, ceiling surfaces, floor surfaces, columns, vestibule, lighting fixtures, attached furnishings, doors, windows, decorative metalwork, and attached decorative elements.

As the citywide advocate for New York’s architectural, historical and cultural neighborhoods, The Historic Districts Council supports the designation of the 1 Wall Street Banking Room

Interior as an Interior Landmark. HDC has organized several tours of this spectacular space through the involvement of the International Hildreth Meiere Association. We thank them for their outstanding stewardship of Meiere’s legacy and we are thrilled that this space is finally being designated, and will once again be open to the public 

The 1 Wall Street Banking Room interior is best known as the Red Room for the glorious and electrifying abstract mosaic decoration, designed by Hildreth Meiere, which defines the space. Meiere, who was recognized by her colleagues at the AIA as a Master of Murals, undertook over 100 such projects throughout her life. 

The Red Room stands out as one of Meiere’s only abstract designs, and also as her first collaborative project with Ralph Walker. The two would next work together on the ATT Long Distance Building at 32 6th Avenue, which has been both an individual and interior landmark since 1991, though the designation report for that interior does not mention Meiere’s work. We are thrilled that Meiere’s contribution is being recognized here.

Indeed, it is quite fitting that this Commission, as a municipal agency, should recognize Meiere’s work, for she had a profound impact on the City of New York. Among her many posts and honors, Meière was the first woman appointed to the New York City Art Commission, served six terms as First Vice President of the Architectural League of New York, and sat on the boards of the Art Students League, the Municipal Arts Society, and the Advisory Committee of the Cooper Union Art School.

We believe that Meiere’s clear understanding of the import of public interiors should guide this Commission. Meiere explained,  “A good mural should be something that cannot be taken away without hurting the design of the building. If the building can look as well without it, it shouldn’t be there in the first place.” 

One Wall Street would be profoundly impoverished without the Red Room. Indeed, One Wall Street would not be the same building without it. That logic holds for many of New York’s unique public interiors, which are often the most beloved parts of the city’s most beloved buildings, because they are open to the public. 

As we celebrate the designation of the public interior at 1 Wall Street, we note the loss, nearby, of the public interior at 60 Wall Street. We wish that this Commission had understood, as Meiere did, that such a space could not be “taken away without hurting the design of the building.” 

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