Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Little Taste Of History (22)

Topic: New York City's Institutions Pre: 1915 #2

The National Academy of Design

It is located at the northwest corner of Fourth avenue and 23d street, and is one of the most beautiful and artistic buildings in New York. It is built in the pure Gothic style of the thirteenth century, and is constructed of gray and white marble and bluestone, artistically blended, and producing a novel and pleasing effect. The 23d street front is eighty feet, and the Fourth avenue side ninety feet in length. A double flight of steps leads to the main entrance, and is ornamented with beautiful carvings and a drinking fountain, all of which blend harmoniously with the general design. The main entrance on 23d street, leads to a handsome vestibule, paved with variegated marbles. From this a massive and imposing stairway leads to the exhibition galleries, which are located in the third story and lifted from the roof. The first and second stories are devoted to the reception room, offices, lecture rooms, art schools, and the library. All the halls and rooms are finished handsomely in white pine, ash, mahogany, oak, and black walnut, in their natural colors, no paint being used on the woodwork of the building. Great care is exercised in the admission of pupils, as it is designed to restrict the schools to those who intend to make art the profession of their lives.

Washington Hall

On the southeast corner of Reade street a stable was afterward erected, and remained until the erection of Washington Hall, which was commenced in 1810, and finished in 1812. This building, in an architectural point of view, was, at the time of its erection, one of the handsomest structures in the city. The architect was John McComb, and the building Committee of the Washington Benevolent Society, under whose auspices it was erected, were Robert Morris, Jr., John McComb, Richard Furman, and John B. Coles. It was erected about the same time, that Tammany Hall was built by the opposite party.

Its subsequent uses were as a public hall, for meetings, assemblies, &c., and it was also kept as a hotel, being conducted during many of its early years by Peter McIntyre. Its early history is also intimately identified with the old Federal party, of which it was the headquarters, and in its hall of meeting were witnessed many of the exciting events which characterized our political history at about the period of the last war with Great Britain. It was not well adapted to the uses of a public house, and was finally purchased by Mr. A. T. Stewart, who erected upon its site the elegant marble building which was the pioneer of that class of structures on Broadway.

The New York Society Library Association

This institution, which was the oldest of the kind in New York, had previously been located in Nassau street, opposite the Dutch church (now Post-office). They sold their property in 1836 for $44,200, and with those and other funds derived from the New York Athenaeum, then merged with them, they purchased the site in Broadway, containing sixty feet front and one hundred feet deep, at a cost of $47,500. The edifice cost about $70,000, the result leaving the Library considerably in debt. The building was completed in 1839. The Library Association occupied the premises until 1853,, when they sold to Appleton & Co., publishers, for the sum of $110,000, by whom it is still occupied.

Contact: miriam#thehistorybox.com

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