By Carter B. Horsley
One of the great skyscrapers
of Lower Manhattan, this Gothic Revival-style tower was erected
in 1910 and designed by Henry Ives Cobb.
Over the years its office tenants
included the Sinclair Oil Company and a precursor of the accounting
firm of Coopers Lybrand.
Its ornate English Gothic design
was copied on a larger scale, with variations, three years later
by Cass Gilbert for the famous Woolworth Building facing City
This 33-story tower rises without
setbacks on is 60-by-80-foot plot, typical of the slender spire
forms that made the city internationally famous in the early decades
of the 20th Century but which were subsequently banned by new
zoning that precluded such romantic and magnificent buildings.
After World War II, many office
tenants were looking for large floors and the older towers fell
a bit out of favor. In the 1960s and 1970s, an exodus of commercial
tenants from Lower Manhattan to midtown and to the suburbs threatened
the viability of many downtown properties.
In 1979, Joseph Pell Lombardi,
an architect, converted this building to a cooperative residential
building with 87 apartments. It has a spectacular location that
is adjacent to the great former Chamber of Commerce building,
a landmark, and across the street from two of Lower Manhattan's
most impressive modern towers, 140 Broad and the Chase Manhattan
Plaza tower and the monumental Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Lombardi's project, which was
done with very high preservation standards, was the first major
such conversion in Lower Manhattan. The next year Martin J. Raynes
converted the very handsome, red, 11-story Potter Building on
Park Row facing City Hall Park, but it would be another 15 years
or so before many more similar conversions of older office buildings
downtown would take place.
Lombardi's conversion subdivided
almost every floor differently with a wide variety of layouts
of simplexes, duplexes and triplexes, which were left "raw"
for the new residents to adapt themselves. He converted the former
boardroom and dining room of the Sinclair Oil Company into an
apartment for himself.
Andrew Alpern discusses this
superb building in his excellent book, "Luxury Apartment
houses of Manhattan," (Dover Publications, Inc., 1992):
"The decorative treatment
at the Liberty Street entrance establishes the design theme and
extends upward to the fourth floor. Flanked by crocketed and pinnacled
spires and surmounted by a glazed Tudor arch, the entry doors
give onto a Gothic vaulted lobby finished in a marble complementary
to the exterior terracotta. The upstairs corridors carry through
the marble wainscoting, with bronze trim....Original prices for
the raw units ranged from $57,000 for a 720-square-foot flat on
the twenty-fourth floor (with a maintenance of $507 per month)
to $225,000 for the entire twenty-ninth floor (monthly maintenance
at $20002). The four garret triplexes carried prices from $179,000
The building has a doorman
and is close to subways. There is excellent shopping in the vicinity.
The building has no garage, no health club and no sidewalk landscaping.
City Hall Park and the Trinity Church cemetery are nearby.