By Carter B. Horsley
One of the
city's most startling apartment buildings, the Evanston was built
in 1912 in a very flamboyant style that employed extensive terracotta
decoration and a tall and very ornate spiked metal fence in front
of its deep dry moat.
building, which has a two-story limestone base, originally had
a large cornice that is now missing, but despite such a dreadful
loss, it is still impressive. The 13-story building was converted
to a cooperative in 1969 and has 57 apartments.
entrance is on the sidestreet in a deeply recessed court whose
approach is flanked by five-globe lampposts. The east side of
the rear of the courtyard has curved bay windows and the step-up
entrance itself is framed in very large windows behind very ornate
grillwork whose curvilinear design is repeated from the tall fences
around the building. This decorative entrance has delicate metalwork.
It was designed
by George and Edward Blum, architects who also designed 277, 617,
760, 780 and 838 West End Avenue, 555, 791, 875, 940 and 1075
Park Avenue, 1435 Lexington Avenue, 676, 720 and 730 Riverside
Drive, among many other Manhattan apartment buildings.
fine book, "George & Edward Blum, Texture and Design
in New York Apartment House Architecture," (The Friends of
Terra Cotta Press, 1993), Andrew S. Dolkart and Susan Tunick note
that the Evanston was built by George F. Johnson Jr., and Leopold
Kahn. The Blums also designed the Admaston apartment building
at 259 West 89th Street the same year for Johnson and Kahn.
Company had previously built the Hendrick Hudson Apartments on
Riverside Drive at 110th Street and the adjoining annex and the
authors suggest that Edward Blum "may have been the designer"
of these two major buildings for the architect of record, William
Blums' apartment houses are part of a third wave of quality multiple
dwelling construction, and their finest buildings stand out from
the hundreds of more pedestrian examples that appeared in Manhattan....they
were among the few apartment house architects of the period to
show an appreciation for expressive exterior design."
and Edward Blum were among a large number of Americans to study
at the École des Beaux-Arts. Most American students had
little first-hand knowledge of Paris or of French language and
culture and remained unaware of new design trends beyond those
taught at the École. The Blums' French parentage and their
experience growing up in France set them apart from most of their
compatriots. It appears that they gained a greater familiarity
with contemporary French architectural practice than most Americans,
for their early buildings indicate a range of French influences
far greater than those generally acquired through study at the
École." "The manipulation of varied materials,
especially the use of brick for decorative as well as functional
purposes, exerted the most far-reaching influence on the Blums'
apartment houses. Brick had been used extensively in French architecture,
notably in the Midi region, near Toulouse and Albi, where stone
is scarce, and on major buildings erected throughout France during
the reign of Louis XIII in the early seventeenth century and during
the nineteenth century. Although brick had not been a traditional
building material in Paris, it became especially popular in the
late nineteenth century for apartment buildings for the middle
and working classes and for public buildings such as schools and
baths," the authors continued.
massing is modulated by attractive, angled balconies of ornamental
terracotta on the top floor and originally had similar balconies
on the third floor that have since been removed although their
has a large lobby, doorman and landscaping.
fence is so bold it almost looks like a later addition, but it
serves to draw attention to this fine building whose cornice should
In his fine
book, "New York's Fabulous Luxury Apartments with Original
Floor Plans from the Dakota, River House, Olympic Tower and Other
Great Buildings," (Dover Publications, 1987), Andrew Alpern
noted that while some apartments have been subdivided over the
years that the "bland and rather conventional facade of this
building conceals a very curious floor plan, which, surprisingly,
has been changed only slightly over the years."
of the apartments on each floor are duplexed," Alpern continued,
adding that "the sleeping rooms one floor higher than the
entertaining rooms, but not directly over them. This enabled each
apartment to provide the feeling of a private house while keeping
costs down by providing identical arrangements on each floor (except,
of course, at the top and the bottom). Each of these apartments
has a foyer plus a huge reception room (complete with fireplace
but not window) bigger than any other room in the house."
The building has fireplaces but has no concierge, no health club
and no garage.