New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

City Land Hearings Held on Two East Midtown Early-20th-Century Buildings by Jesse Denno

Hearings Held on Two East Midtown Early-20th-Century Buildings

Support for individual landmark designations of Beaux-Arts Hotel and Neo-Renaissance Office Building expressed at hearing. On February 20, 2018, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held public hearings on the potential designations of Hotel Seville and the Emmet Building, both in East Midtown, in the area to the north of Madison Square. Landmarks added both buildings to its calendar in December of 2017.

The Hotel Seville, currently operating as the James New York NoMad Hotel, stands at 22 East 29th Street at the corner of Madison Avenue. Architect Harry All Jacobs designed the original hotel, completed in 1904. An addition continuing Jacobs’ Beaux-Arts design was constructed in 1907 to designs by Charles T. Mott. The hotel was constructed at a time when the neighborhood was transitioning from a residential area into a commercial and business center. It was among several moderately priced hotels constructed in that era to serve business travelers and permanent guests. The ornate facade’s lower levels are clad in stripes of limestone and red brick, providing a backdrop to the French-inspired sculptural details. Large metal bowed windows were made feasible by the structure’s steel-frame construction.

Though the hotel has been repeatedly remodeled, its exterior remains substantially intact.

A 2004 addition to the hotel would be excluded from the designation.

Higgins Quasebath’s Ward Dennis, representing the owner, GFI Development Company, endorsed designation, and said the company had undertaken significant restoration and rehabilitation on the hotel’s exterior and looked forward to working with Landmarks.

A representative of Community Board 5 said the hotel was architecturally significant and merited designation, and also asked Landmarks to consider an extension to the Madison Square North Historic District to protect more buildings in the area. A representative of the 29th Street Neighborhood Associationtestified that the hotel “contributes significantly to the historic fabric of the area.”  The New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Andrea Goldwyn said the “robust” Beaux-Arts building “anchors the corner,” and recalls an important era in the development of the Madison Avenue corridor. Goldwyn said the building stood in an area facing significant development pressures, and deserved swift protection.

Emmet Building

The 16-story Emmet Building, standing across the Madison Avenue form the Hotel Seville, at 95 Madison Avenue, was designed by the firm of Barney & Colt and built in 1912. The building was developed by Thomas Addis Emmet, a prominent gynecological surgeon, replacing four low-scale residential buildings. It was built as a commercial structure, largely to wholesalers, and incorporated showrooms. The building is topped with a penthouse that was constructed as Emmet’s residence. While janitor’s apartments on top of commercial buildings were common at the time, the idea of a luxury penthouse  was innovative. The design of the building incorporates French Renaissance and Neo-Gothic elements. The lower three stories are clad in limestone, and the upper floors in terra cotta. Canopies, cartouches, and gargoyles ornament the lower stories, while the upper floors display Gothic colonnades, piers, and shat. The building is crowned with elaborate cornices and friezes, and a mansard roof.

Rita Sklar, of the family has possessed the building since the 1940s and principal of Ninety Five Madison Corp., warmly embraced designation of the “grande dame that has withstood the test of time.” Sklar said the Emmet was a “tiny building in a growing sea of towering modern buildings,” that “remained a jewel”, and was worthy of individual landmark designation. The Historic Districts Council’s Kelly Carroll discussed Dr. Emmet’s support for the Irish independence movement, and noted that he left his extensive library to the Irish American Historical Society and Notre Dame. Designation was also supported by Community Board 5, the 29th Street Block Association, the Society for the Architecture of the City, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, who had recently visited the site, said the building has been “beautifully maintained,” and “has great presence on the block.”

Chair Srinivasan stated that State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, and Council Member Ben Kallos had communicated their support for both designations in a joint letter to the Commission.

The hearing was closed with the establishment of a vote on designation.

 

LPC: Hotel Seville, 18 East 29th Street, Manhattan (LP-2602); The Emmet Building, 95 Madison Avenue, Manhattan (LP-2603) (Feb. 20, 2017).

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