By Carter B. Horsley
One of the city's great
skyline buildings even though it has been dwarfed by some towers
on 57th Street, the Hampshire House is noted for its spectacular,
steeply-pitched copper roof with two tall chimneys.
"While the opening
of the Pierre and the Waldorf-Astoria effectively marked the end
of hotel construction in the Metropolitan Era, the strange circumstances
that surrounded the completion of Caughey & Evans's Hampshire
House, once labeled 'Manhattan's Monument to Frenzied Finance,'
revived the old spirit at the end of the Depression," noted
Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins in the
great book, "New York 1930, Architecture and Urbanism Between
The Two World Wars," (Rizzoli, 1987).
The 37-story building was
started in January, 1931, but abandoned six months later by its
developer, the H. K. Ferguson Company of Cleveland, and, the authors
continued, "stood derelict until 1938."
"Executed in glistening
white brick, Hampshire House was a strange hybrid, a cascade of
setbacks attached to a rectangular tower that rose from the back
of the lot. The tower was crowned by a steep copper roof and twin
chimneys that referred to the Savoy-Plaza, but the dormers below
were Spanish Baroque, and the base of the building with its rusticated
white marble walls aluminum fixtures, and polished black granite
trim was as stylish example of Modern Classicism," the authors
The Savoy-Plaza was the
very large hotel designed in a neo-Classical/French Renaissance
style by McKim, Meade & White on the present site of the General
Motors Building across Fifth Avenue from the Plaza Hotel. The
Savoy-Plaza made the southeast corner of Central Park the city's
most elegant enclave as it tied together the formal elegance of
the Plaza Hotel and the Bergdorf Goodman store with a massive
but elegant tower noted for its pitched roof, a photograph of
which graces the cover of "New York 1930." Only the
former Pennsylvania Station and the Singer Building on Lower Broadway
were greater architectural losses in the city in the 20th Century.
Despite the authors' comparison
of the Hampshire House with the Savoy Plaza, the Hampshire House's
roof was more dramatic and much more colorful. While their description
of the façade is accurate, their categorizing it as Modern
Classicism is not terribly relevant. The base of the building
does have moderne elements, but they pale in comparison
with its great roof, the focal point of Central Park South.
The building was converted
to a cooperative in 1937 and has 175 units. It has some terraces,
a doorman and a canopied entrance with a revolving door but no
health club. It is convenient to public transportation, shopping
and restaurants and is, of course, across from Central Park and
has spectacular views.