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Thread: Roosevelt Building - 841 Broadway at East 13th St - by Steven Decatur Hatch

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default Roosevelt Building - 841 Broadway at East 13th St - by Steven Decatur Hatch

    Roosevelt Building / 841 Broadway

    1893, Steven Decatur Hatch.

    Romanesque Revival: Brick with terracotta detailing, cast iron elements, rusticated granite base.

    This great old building (on the NW corner of Broadway & East 13th Street (just below Union Square) is not to be confused with the other Roosevelt Building by Richard Morris Hunt down in SoHo at 478 - 482 Broadway. This one is named after Cornelius Roosevelt, grandfather of Teddy Roosevelt. The building (which is neither an individual landmark nor situated in a landmarked district) is currently undergoing a thorough restoration of its magnificent facade. One of it's most notable features is the column which runs up almost the entire facade at the SE corner, and which is topped by a intricate copper cupola.













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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The facade undergoing the nearly completed restoration ...












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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The Roosevelt Building was the original site of the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (later Biograph Studios), which had a revolving rooftop movie studio here starting in 1895 ...
    Biograph StudiosTM began in 1895 with a revolving studio that followed the sun on the rooftop of its building on Broadway in New York. From there Biograph moved its studios to fourteenth street where many of the legends of movies were born, such as D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore and Lillian Gish.

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    Truly a magnificent find. Nice eye candy.

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    In the long run... londonlawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scraperfannyc View Post
    Truly a magnificent find. Nice eye candy.
    I agree. But for a small, dumpy stretch in the mid to high 20's, B'Way has some extraordinary buildings. Even the aforementioned stretch, but for some crap, has some true jewels. The City should rezone that stretch to encourage residential and hotel development of the crap and to weed out the rowdies.

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The architectural firm SLCE Architects have their offices in the Roosevelt Building.

    Per DOB the architect of record for the facade restoration at 841 Broadway is:
    Israel Berger & Associates / Israel Berger, RA

  7. #7

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    Streetscapes | Broadway Between 13th and 14th Streets

    A Family’s Legacy, Burnished Anew

    Left, Office for Metropolitan History; Right, Tina Fineberg for The New York Times
    ROOSEVELTS DOWN THE BLOCK The Roosevelt Building on 13th Street in about 1900, center, and today.

    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
    Published: April 13, 2008

    AMONG the prominent families of New York City, the Roosevelts may be known now for their presidents, but in the 19th century they were prosperous merchants who built widely, mainly for investment purposes. Of their structures that remain, none looks so smart as the 1894 Roosevelt Building at Broadway and 13th Street, glowing and pristine from a recent cleaning.

    New York Historical Society
    A view up Broadway in 1865 shows Lincoln's funeral passing the Roosevelt home at 14th Street.

    The Roosevelts were old Dutch stock, and by the mid-19th century Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt was a successful plate glass importer. Around 1850, he built a mansion on the southwest corner of Broadway and 14th Street, looking out upon the domestic propriety of Union Square. The family owned the blockfront down to 13th Street.

    There is a well-known photograph from 1865 looking north on Broadway from 13th Street as the Lincoln funeral procession passes the Roosevelt house. It is draped with the stars and stripes, and observers cling to nearby rooftops.

    Two figures are visible in a second-floor window, and one is said to be Cornelius’s grandson, Theodore Jr. — then about 7 years old — who would be president of the United States in 1901 to 1909.

    Cornelius died in 1871, and the house was soon razed for a commercial structure. But the family held the blockfront, and in 1893, the Roosevelts began their most imposing structure in the city, at the 13th Street corner.
    The architect Stephen D. Hatch designed the eight-story retail and loft structure in a warm, honeyed palette of orange, yellow and tan iron-spot brick and delicate terra-cotta trim. Although the main entrance has been much reduced, the great arch on Broadway is still visible, flanked by shields bearing the letters “R” and “B.” Above the second floor, the wall is a tapestry of thin Roman brick, punctuated by bursts of floral relief sculpture.

    The Real Estate Record & Guide did not think much of the Roosevelts’ conduct of business, because in 1894 the journal noted with disdain that the building had been vacant since completion, apparently months before. The Record & Guide said the refusal of the Roosevelts to use a broker meant that prospective tenants had to go down to their offices on Wall Street to negotiate, and this discouraged leases.

    At that time, the main floor had just been rented, apparently to Hackett, Carhart & Company, a clothing store. In 1902, the company advertised its neckwear in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, offering “7,200 high grade squares, imperials, four-in-hands, tecks, puffs, etc.” in “seasonable coloring” for 50 cents each.

    Another tenant, the American Mutoscope Company, moved in around 1896, and in a few years, it was renamed the Biograph Company. The director D. W. Griffith was an employee. Early in the new century, it was contracted to film scenes of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential appearances, according to the Web site biographcompany.com.

    A nasty fire at the building in 1903 engulfed most of the upper stories, and one fireman fell to his death through a hole in the floor. The Record & Guide again treated the Roosevelt Building with contempt, especially its claim to be fireproof. “Nothing burns so readily as a fireproof building” it said, quoting a common phrase, and the journal principally blamed the architects for the problem.

    Noting that Hatch had not encased the cast-iron columns with masonry — which would have prevented the collapse of the top floor — the journal maintained that instead “he busied himself with plastering the exterior of his building with a vast amount of not over-admirable decoration.”

    Accounts of the fire disclose that the building engineer, Thomas Murphy, lived with his wife and four children in quarters on the roof. They were not injured.

    The Roosevelt Building and others of its era suffered a slow, steady downward slide in the 1930s and 1940s, and by the 1950s the 19th-century buildings of SoHo and NoHo were essentially forgotten. A later restoration fever that swept over SoHo and adjacent areas missed the Roosevelt Building, which sat dirty with a bare scar where its copper cornice once ran.

    Last year, however, the owners of the property, a partnership including the investor Jeffrey Feil, began a restoration program that, for a lesser commercial building, well apart from the fashionable downtown areas, was far above and beyond the call of duty.

    Israel Berger Architects have been supervising an utter transformation of the building, in particular the cleaning, which has brought back the natural mellow glow of Hatch’s work, however imperfect it may have been in terms of fireproofing. Detailed pictures of the Roosevelt Building have been posted at wirednewyork.com (search for the name of the building).

    Stanford Chan, director of restoration for the firm, says the work has involved historic paint analysis for repainting (an unusual light cream color on the iron spandrel panels), re-creation of the lost copper cornice and replication of damaged decorative elements through Boston Valley Terra Cotta.

    “We treated it like a landmark,” Mr. Chan said, “even though it isn’t one.”

    E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times.

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    WNY cited as a source in NY Times. (Is this a first?)



    This pre-restoration photo shows the ghastly condition of the ground floor.
    More RovingRube photos from 2003 here.

    Photos courtesy of the yoga studio in the building.


    I take it we won't see the return of the ornamental parapet above the central bay seen in the 1900 photo. Probably removed for safety, from lack of upkeep.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonik View Post
    WNY cited as a source in NY Times. (Is this a first?)
    Hey lofter, it really paid off for you to invest in that high quality camera, huh? Congratulations!!

    This'll be good for WNY.





    (Btw, am I off the hook on our camera bet? Did that play ever make it to Broadway?)

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Detailed pictures of the Roosevelt Building have been posted at wirednewyork.com (search for the name of the building).
    The Times isn't internet savy enough to include a direct link to this thread

    That "photo essay" of the Roosevelt Building from August 2007 was one of the first I did after my camera "practice session" out in Oregon last July & August.

    And, yep, Ablarc: you're off the hook -- for now, anyway. The play in question didn't move much past its humble origins (but one never knows what might happen in show biz).

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    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    The Times isn't internet savy enough to include a direct link to this thread
    could be that, or maybe observing formal proper etiquette of not deep linking ...

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    What is the reasoning behind that "proper etiquette" rule?

    and where would one find the entire list of rules for online forum / blog procedure ?

    (being self-taught and having never gone to forum college I no doubt infringe on a regular basis)

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post

    ... am I off the hook on our camera bet?

    Did that play ever make it to Broadway?
    For updates on the life -- or better put: demise -- of "White Noise - The Musical" go HERE

  14. #14

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    Theres a very similar building in Belfast, with almost gargoyle like insets around it.
    Beautiful looking.

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    Although the direct link issue is a bit of a bother, it's great to know Mr. Gray is well aware of this place. Our influence is spreading, and it won't be long before we're ruling the world!

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