Saturday, December 27, 2014

"THE MOST CONSPICUOUS DWELLING HOUSE IN THE CITY"


MR.   TIFFANY'S HOUSE,  MADISON   AVENUE  AND  SEVENTY-SECOND STREET
Photo - The Century, 1886 

    The building activity in upper Madison avenue and upper Park avenue continues, taking the form, generally, of "elegant residences", upon the outside of which much money has been expended, with varying degrees of judgment. The Tiffany house, at Madison Avenue and Seventy-second Street, is already THE MOST CONSPICUOUS DWELLING HOUSE IN THE CITY. The gable on the Madison avenue front must be very nearly seventy-five feet wide at the base, and the pitch is steep, so that the roof is a towering object. The house is also conspicuous by its magnitude and its material. The central gable on the Seventy-second street front and the turret at the angle are still unfinished, and these will so modify the skyline and the general effect of the exteriors that the house will not be fairly amenable to criticism until they are completed. 

   Follow THIS LINK for all past posts relating to the 72nd Street residence of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Monday, December 22, 2014

World's Largest Indoor Christmas Tree - Sterling & Welch Company Building - Cleveland, Ohio

   Sterling & Welch began in 1845 when Thos. S. and Wm. Beckwith opened a dry goods store on Superior St. In 1857 the store replaced its dry goods line with floor coverings and curtains. Both Frederick A. Sterling and Geo. P. Welch joined the company in its early years and by 1889 they had control of the partnership which was incorporated in 1902 as the Sterling & Welch Co. In 1909 the firm moved from its location on lower Euclid Avenue to 1215-1225 Euclid Ave., where it built one of the largest and finest home furnishing stores in the area. In 1927 Sterling & Welch began the tradition of installing the nation's largest indoor Christmas tree in its atrium.


STERLING & WELCH BUILDING 1215 EUCLID AVENUE CLEVELAND, OHIO
J. Milton Dyer, Architect 

"it is undoubtedly the finest, most commodious and handsomest store building in the world, it being unsurpassed by any in Chicago, New York or the metropolitan centers of Europe. It is strictly modern in every sense, with magnificent interior furnishings and every facility to promote the beauty and substantiality of the structure." A History of Cleveland, Ohio: Biographical By Samuel Peter Orth


MARQUISE, STORE FRONT AND BRONZE ENTRANCE, THE STERLING WELCH CO.
W. S. TYLER COMPANY 

In front of the Sterling and Welch Store, circa 1940's.

INNER COURT OF THE NEW STORE OF THE STERLING & WELCH CO.
CLEVELAND, OHIO
INNER COURT OF THE STORE OF THE STERLING & WELCH CO.
CLEVELAND, OHIO

A live, 50-60 ft. tree, festooned with 60 lbs. of 'icicles', 1000 yds. of tinsel, 1500 ornaments, and because fire regulations prohibited the practice of placing lights in the trees, was illuminated by 6 banks of 750 candle-watt spotlights. It required 650 man-power hours to trim by swinging stages suspended from the skylight.


1933 CHRISTMAS TREE
   
   Legend has it the tree grew a foot while inside the store.


1936 CHRISTMAS TREE

1940 CHRISTMAS TREE

1952 CHRISTMAS TREE

1954 CHRISTMAS TREE

1955 CHRISTMAS TREE

1958 CHRISTMAS TREE
1959 CHRISTMAS TREE
1959 CHRISTMAS TREE

1960 CHRISTMAS TREE
1962 CHRISTMAS TREE
1966 CHRISTMAS TREE

1966 CHRISTMAS TREE

Their "Santaland" included a device where you could insert a coin and receive a gift that came down a slide, a train, and an enchanted forest display.
1967 CHRISTMAS TREE -THE LAST ONE

    
    The STERLING-LINDNER CO. was a combination of 3 smaller stores--the Sterling & Welch Co., the W.B. Davis Co., and the Lindner Co.--each of which was a leader retailer in its own specialty. 

   The W.B. Davis Co., a pioneer menswear store in Cleveland, began in Jan. 1879 as a custom-shirt factory operated by Wm. B. Davis and Edwin Parsons at Superior and Bank (W. 6th) streets. By 1880 Davis had changed the business to a retail men's furnishing store, which was incorporated in May 1888. In 1917 Davis moved from an earlier location on Euclid Ave. to its newly acquired Davis Bldg. at 325 Euclid.

   The Lindner Co., once the largest women's specialty store in Cleveland, was begun by Max Lindner, Max Hellman, and Morris Black in 1908 on E. 9th St., and by 1915 Lindner had built and occupied a larger store at 1331 Euclid AveThe following year, the 2 companies were merged into the Sterling-Lindner-Davis Co. 


LINDNER BUILDING
Built 1915, Robert D. Kohn, architect. 

Looking West at the corner of E. 12th Street and Euclid Avenue, late 1950,s -  Hotel Statler(now the Statler Arms Apartments)Union Club and  Sterling-Linder-Davis department store on right.

  
1255 EUCLID AVENUE
Modernization underway for the opening of Lindner-Davis store in the former Higbee building, circa 1949. 

   In 1947 one of the nation's largest operators of department stores, the Allied Stores Corp. of New York, acquired Lindner & Davis. Two years later, it purchased Sterling & Welch. In 1949 the Lindner-Davis general department store opened in the remodeled Higbee building at Euclid Ave. and E. 13th St., adjacent to the Sterling & Welch store. Davis was dropped from the name in 1958. In the early 1960s, the firm felt that it was in a prime location downtown and decided not to establish suburban branch stores. Allied Stores then realized that without outlying stores, Sterling-Lindner was not profitable. The store closed in 1968 and the building was demolished.


Euclid Ave and E 13th view of Sterling Welch building in Cleveland, Ohio, shortly before it was razed. The two store gray building on the NE corner of 13th/Euclid was the Cowell and Hubbard Jewelrs building. This intersection was the epicenter for Cleveland's carriage trade stores.
Note the SWC frieze.
The beautiful atrium was demolished to make way for an office building that never materialized. The steel pilings for the atrium were cut off and remain in the ground.
   
    At their peak, Cleveland's downtown department stores anchored a lower Euclid Avenue that ranked among the largest retail districts in the United States and was compared to New York's stylish Fifth Avenue.

   After World War II, the growth of suburbs and shopping malls started to draw business away from downtown and Euclid Avenue. The department stores tried to compete, opening up suburban branches, but by the turn of the 21st century most of these local companies had been bought out by national chains, with their flagship downtown locations converted to other uses. 


HIGBEE BUILDING 1255 EUCLID AVENUE
Later a fifth floor was added and the matching top trim eliminated. 
Now known as the Sterling Building
   
   Founded in 1860 by Edwin Higbee and John Hower, Higbees was a simple two-man dry goods store originally known as Hower and Higbees. Following Howers death in 1897, the store incorporated as the Higbee Company.


    Originally located downtown, in 1931 the Higbee Company was in the midst of constructing a new store on Public Square. The move would return the Higbee Company back to downtown after nearly a quarter-century stint next to Sterling Welch on Playhouse Square. When completed, the new store stood as an anchor to the new Cleveland Union Terminal Complex, which became the hub of the city's rapid transit system.  

Higbee's became enshrined as a scene in the holiday film "A Christmas Story".

   The Van Sweringen brothers’ massive Cleveland Union Terminal project was the ultimate impetus for Higbee’s returning to Public Square in 1931. As a hub for both train travel and their Shaker Rapid Transit system, the brothers wanted to capitalize on the captive traffic by incorporating a department store into the project. When the pair failed to lure any department stores, they solved their dilemma by simply buying Higbee’s and moving it there themselves.
   
   Higbee's was purchased in 1992 by Arkansas-based Dillard's and closed its Terminal Tower store in 2002. In 2012 the Higbee building became home to the Horseshoe Casino.

The home of Amasa and Julia Stone, 1255 Euclid Avenue, was completed in 1857.
   
   In 1857, Amasa Stone, a successful railroad entrepreneur and bridge designer, erected a 6,500-square-foot Italianate villa mansion. Eighteen years later, Stone planned and constructed a bridge spanning the Ashtabula Gorge, ignoring advice from his own engineers, who considered the design unsafe. The bridge ultimately collapsed in a windstorm, killing 151 train passengers unfortunate enough to be crossing at the time of its collapse.

   The despondent Stone, attempting to cope with the bridge disaster, failing health, the accidental drowning of his only son and a financial panic that ruined three companies he controlled, fired a bullet through his heart while sitting in a bathtub in his Euclid Avenue mansion. Samuel Mather and his wife, Flora Stone Mather (one of Amasa's daughters), lived in the home until Flora died in 1909. At the time of her death, Flora had nearly completed her participation in the design of what would have been her next residence, the plush Mather mansion still standing on the Cleveland State University campus. After the Stone residences demolition in 1910, the  Sterling Welch building was built joined by the new Higbee Company building. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Villa Marina" at Christmas

"Villa Marina" at Christmas 1922

Follow THIS LINK for more on "Villa Marina" at Roslyn, L. I. The Home of Frank C. Henderson, Esq.

Monday, December 1, 2014

THE COUNTRY HOUSE AT CHRISTMAS TIME

   THE COUNTRY HOUSE AT CHRISTMAS TIME House Parties That Will Gather to Celebrate the Yule-Tide in Many Suburban Localities—A Growing Custom in America



Some one has said that the house party is the latest and most luxurious development in Christmas entertaining. In a way, it is new to Americans. It is simply the outgrowth of the adoption of English country life and English country customs. But it may be called a survival from the colonial period, rather than an absolute novelty. The house party was a very popular method of entertaining in the colonial days, especially in Virginia and Maryland, where there existed ans still exists many old manor houses, which are well adapted for large companies. After the Revolution there was a period in which an adherence to English customs became almost a treason, and Christmas was celebrated in the North more in the old Dutch spirit. It became, apart from its religious significance, the day for children and servants.

When society grew tired of flocking to hotels for its summer outing, and cottage life became a feature, the old estates along the Hudson, and in Westchester County, among the Berkshircs, on Long Island, and near the greater cities, which had been neglected and were drugs on the market, gradually came into fashion again. Magnificent country houses, like those which have existed for years in England, were built, and the house party on its present lavish scale was a possibility.



More and more, since country and suburban life became the vogue has Christmas passed out of town. At many of the large estates near New York there are house parties, and the plans for the inviting of congenial guests begin during the early days of autumn. The American house party, as a rule, with the exception of those given at the "Dukeries" and other celebrated English manors and estates, is likely to be on a scale of greater magnitude than those abroad. Sixty or even one hundred or more guests are asked, and this is made possible by the ample accommodations for the unattached man, who must be present in superior numbers. Nearly all the large country houses have a "club building" especially arranged for bachelors. Some of these parties last through the holiday weeks. The distance between town and country is made so slight by the employment of the motor car, that many men can go to town in the morning and return back for tea or dinner. Possibly, at house parties which are given weekly from November until after the holidays, no one entertains more lavishly than Mr. William K. Vanderbilt at "Idle Hour".  There are seldom less than one hundred guests, and there is a varied program of all kinds of amusements for their benefit, including each evening recitals of music by the best talent procurable in this country. Within the grounds of "Idle Hour", there are golf links, tennis and squash courts, pigeon shoots, and arrangements for aquatic sports of all kinds. There are garages filled with motor cars, stables with horses and traps, motor boats, launches and yachts; in fact, there is everything requisite excepting, perhaps, the aeroplane and this no doubt will be added as soon as it is practicable. 



"Idle Hour" is a little world to itself, a pleasure kingdom by the sea. The Vanderbilt family is now so large and has so many branches that each head of one of the houses has a gathering of its own. Dr. and Mrs. W. Seward Webb usually observe Christmas at "Shelburne Farms", where, besides their own children, there is always a number ot extra guests. "Shelburne Farms" is one of the few places in America which has its own game preserves, and it is more like an English estate. The high latitude gives full scope for winter sports of all kinds. Mr. and Mrs. William D. Sloane frequently open "Elm Court" at Lenox for the holidays. Besides their young son, who has just graduated from Yale, there are three married daughters, Mrs. James A. Burden, Jr., Mrs. Hammond and Mrs. Field, and with a few intimate friends, a large house party is easily assembled. Sleighing, skating and tobogganing are among the pastimes of the week. Lenox has become a favorite place for Christmas celebrations; here-Mr. and Mrs. Giraud Foster, Mr. and Mrs. George Westinghousc, Mr. and Mrs. George Winthrop Folsom and others entertain during the holidays, participating in a real old-fashioned New England Christmas. 



Again, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt usually give a large Christmas house party at their camp in the Adirondacks. Here, last year, were Miss Evelyn Parsons, Miss Gwendolyn Burden, Mrs. Arthur Scott Burden and Miss Natica Rives, now Mrs. Williams Burden, as well as Mr. and Mrs. William Goadby Loew and a number of men in the Newport set. Mr. and Mrs. H. McK. Twombly go to Madison, N.J., for their Christmas and Mr. and Mrs. George Vanderbilt have a royal celebration at "Biltmore House" in the far South. Here, near the Land of the Sky, in North Carolina, they assemble a party of congenial friends for the holidays. There are services in the Biltmore church, which has one of the best choirs in this country and a celebrated organist brought from England. In the afternoon, there is a Christmas tree for the children of the tenants on the place and the employes, and the gifts hung on a tall pine in the great ballroom are distributed by Mrs. Vanderbilt. Afterwards, there is a performance or concert and a collation. For the guests there are recitals of music by well-known artists from New York, hunting trips and all the delights of life in the open in the Southland. Mr. and Mrs. Pembroke Jones take a party of guests to their North Carolina plantation. Colonel and Mrs. John Jacob Astor usually have a house party at their estate near "Rhinebeek," and Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Mills celebrate the Yule-tide in the good old English fashion at Staatsburg in the splendid manor house of the Livingstons. Mr. and Mrs. Frederick G. Bourne give a house party at their Long Island estate, and Mr. and Mrs. Anson Phelps Stokes have a family gathering at Noroton, Conn. At the club settlements and such colonies as Tuxedo, Christmas is observed, not only by individual house parties at the various cottages, but also by sports and contests of all kinds at the club-house and by a jolly dance. At Tuxedo, the New Year is welcomed by a ball, which is one of the events of the winter season. 

Thus has the Christmas house party gradually taken the place among national observances. Every one now who has a country house feels that the great festival should be celebrated there rather than in town, where, too often, the streets are given over to a noisy and boisterous Saturnalia. It seems more in accordance with the traditions. In the second century of the Nation we are rapidly acquiring age with other characteristics. However, the universal observance of Christmas in the country, and the bringing together by the very wealthy of large assemblages of young and old, of giving to every member of a household an opportunity to enjoy the day and to join together in celebrating the greatest of festivals with a social, democratic spirit, are good signs. The traditions are preserved and the celebration is more in accord with the letter of that heavenly message given to the shepherds who watched their flocks by night on the hills of Palestine—that old sweet message of "Peace on Earth. Good Will to Men."



Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Views in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building





Great Hall ian Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building

Stairway in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building 

Dining Room in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building

Window Recess in a Dining Room in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building

PANELS FROM AN OLD COROMANDEL SCREEN HAVE BEEN TREATED AS PILASTERS AND THE COLOR SCHEME OF THE ROOM HAS BEEN DERIVED FROM THEM.
Library in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building

THE PANELS FROM AN OLD COROMANDEL SCREEN HAVE BEEN HINGED TO WALL TO PERMIT BOTH SIDES TO BE VIEWED. WALLS BUFF WITH RED LACQUER MOULDINGS. FURNITURE RICH WARM TONES, OLD ROSE VELVET UPHOLSTERY.
Detail of Library in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building

Master's Bedroom in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building

Master's Bedroom in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building

WALLS AND WOOD WORK IN GRAY-BLUE AND SAND COLOR, MANTEL OF LIGHT GRAY BLUE MARBLE, PANELS OF APPLIQUE EMBROIDERY IN BLUE AND BEIGE. LEATHER CHAIR COVERING STRONG BLUE, WOOD MAPLE.
Detail in the Master's bedroom of an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building


 For more on this apartment and office building - Penthouse Apartment of Robert M. Catts on Top of the Park-Lexington Building

Monday, October 20, 2014

Penthouse Apartment of Robert M. Catts on Top of the Park-Lexington Building

In the early nineteen-twenties, Mr. Catts erected the 20-story Park-Lexington office building at 247 Park Avenue, adjoining the Grand Central Palace on the west, and on one of the top floors he had an apartment, which was referred to in the newspapers as one of the most magnificent dwellings in the city. 

Robert M. Catts and Associates, Who Last Week Acquired Control of the Structure Occupying the Block Bounded by Forty-sixth to Forty-seventh Street, Lexington Avenue and Depew Place, Propose to Erect New Hotel or Commercial Structure on Vacant Plot Adjoining the Palace on Park Avenue and Remodel the Palace Into Modem Office Building.
PROPOSED ADDITIONS TO GRAND CENTRAL PALACE


August 13, 1922
One of the most noteworthy of the big commercial buildings just started in the Grand Central centre is the twenty-story Park-Lexington Building, occupying the site over the railroad tracks on the east side of Park Avenue, between Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Streets. It is being erected by Robert M. Catts, who leased the property some time ago when he took over the adjoining Grand Central Palace on the Lexington Avenue block front between the same thoroughfares. Warren & Wetmore are the architects and the cost is placed at $2,000,000. The facades will be of ornamental terra-cotta and gray brick. There will be a  150-foot arcade from Park Avenue to the Grand Central Palace, combining many artistic features. It will make a new and attractive entrance to the exhibitions held in the Palace, and there will be a row of small stores on either side of the arcade. 

Park-Lexington Building 247 Park Avenue
The view is south towards Grand Central Terminal before the 1929 construction of the New York Central Building(Helmsley Building).




The Pan Am Building and the Shattering of the Modernist Dream - Building an office building over railroad tracks was not in itself new. The concept dated back at least to the turn of the century, with William J. Wilgus's master plan for the development of the Grand Central area with the new terminal at its core. The enormous difficulties and huge expense encountered in sinking the foundation footings of buildings on upper Park Avenue down fifty feet below grade through the New York Central Railroad's steel double-decked track structure to bedrock, then threading the foundation steel and other construction materials for a new building overhead through the two track levels without interrupting train service, had been encountered as early as 1923, with the building of the twenty-story Park-Lexington Building on Park Avenue. Space both for operations and for the storage of materials on the confined Park-Lexington site was severely limited, and workers had to operate from platforms suspended from above, as they could not erect anything from below that might obstruct the operation of trains. To avoid vibrations from trains, all steel for the new building had to be wholly independent of the railroad structure, with columns resting on steel billets supported on independent foundations, cushioned to minimize transmission of movement. The problems encountered in the Park-Lexington Building had been solved so successfully that it served as a model for the subsequent buildings on Park Avenue that mushroomed in its wake.

Penthouse Apartment of Robert M. Catts on Top of the Park-Lexington Building


In the nineteen-twenties Robert M. Catts, was described in newspapers of the period as the most "spectacular" real estate operator of the day. Mr. Catts may have been spectacular in his operations, but according to the newspaper reports he was also insolvent during most of his career. At one time he barricaded himself in the penthouse to avoid being served court papers.

Among the enterprises with which Mr. Catts was associated at various times, either as builder or owner, or both, were the Marshall Field Building, an unusual combination of apartment house and office building at 200 Madison Avenue; the Medical Arts Building at Fifty-seventh Street and Sixth Avenue, and the Cheney Silk Building. He was the originator of the plan by which Calvary Baptist Church on West Fifty-seventh Street became a combination apartment house and church.

In 1899 Mr. Catts eloped with Miss Ola McWhorter of Millington, Md., six months after he called at her house to solicit orders for pictures. They were divorced a few years later and in 1911 he secretly married Dorothy Tennant, actress, who scored a hit as the original widow in George Ade's comedy, "The College Widow"



PAINTED CEILING IN THE DINING ROOM OF R. M. CATTS, NEW YORK. DECORATION BY ARTHUR CRISP
The ground in lacquer red, painted with Persian designs in old gold, blue, and antique white. Each of the four sides of the cove depicts a different method of procuring food.

Mr. Catts sold his interest in the buildings to August Heckscher, another large real estate owner, in 1923. The penthouse having several tenants until converted into offices.


July 17, 1960
A twelve-room duplex penthouse apartment on the roof of the twenty-story building at 247 Park Avenue has been converted into a thirty-five-room office suite.

The apartment was a relic of the lavish Nineteen Twenties. Its first occupant, in 1922, was the late Robert M. Catts, a well known real estate operator and the owner of the building at No. 247.

The building is just north of Grand Central Terminal, on the east side of Park Avenue between Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Streets.

Before World  War II, the apartment had a number of tenants who succeeded Mr. Catts, among them Jascha Heifitz, the violinist.

When office space became scarce after the war, the apartment was rented out for offices by William A. White & Sons, agents for the office structure. The duplex was recently leased to Wright Long & Co., accountants, and the law firm of Saul S. Silverman, and has been redesigned by Dallek, Inc., interior design firm.

The first floor of the duplex had two master bedrooms, a living room measuring 35 by 64 feet, a studio, dining room and gallery, all surrounded by a terrace.

The interior design of the duplex — a  melange  of French Gothic, which predominates, Italian Renaissance, and a touch of old Spain and the Far East— has been kept intact.

New walls, however, were built to divide the great rooms into offices, and some passageways were closed to re-route the traffic pattern. All the offices have been air-conditioned, and a new lighting system has been installed throughout.

The old dining room is now a conference room. Oak paneling and the ceiling which had been painted to resemble a medieval tapestry, have been retained and the travertine floor has been renewed by sanding.


The roof of his house has been transformed into a gorgeous garden, containing rare plants and statuary. The great East River bridges, in the background, supply striking contrast. Popular Science 1924

Mr. Catts died April 22, 1942, at the age of 63. He had remained active in the real estate business long after he gave up the Palace. A business associate was quoted saying that "Mr. Catts had more vision and initiative than any other New York realty operator and builder of his time."


Grand  Central Palace
A view of the Catts penthouse can be seen at the top.

For years the Grand Central Palace was one of the best known and heaviest trafficked buildings in the city. It provided the largest exhibit space available here until the completion of the New York Coliseum in 1956.

Thousands of New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors attended the annual flower, automobile and motor boat shows that made the Palace famous. 

During World War II the Government took over the Palace's exhibition hall as an Induction and Enlistment Headquarters for the armed services. 

After the war it was decided that the city needed a larger and more modern central exhibition center, and plans got

underway for the Coliseum. The Manhattan district office of the United States Internal Revenue Service occupied the Palace's exhibition space from 1953 until its demolition, and every year, at the approach of April 15, the old building was nearly as crowded as it was in its old exhibition days—but with taxpayers, not  flower lovers.

In 1963, 52 years after Grand Central Palace opened and a decade after the last show was held there, the building was demolished. A 44-story office tower, 245 Park Avenue, took its place. The adjoining Park-Lexington Building was taken down at the same time. 

Additional interior photos of the Robert M. Catts  penthouse - Views in an Apartment on the Roof of a New York Office Building