Monday, February 10, 2014

The Short Life of Another Little NY Masterpiece

Source: Wikimedia Commons
 Update on MoMA Steamrolls down 53rd Street

The fate of William & Tsien's American Folk Art Museum at the hands of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (see my blog entry of Jan. 15th) echoes that of McKim Mead & White's sumptuous Madison Square Presbyterian Church, built for the outrageous sum of $500,000 in 1909 and demolished in 1919 for an annex to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company tower across the street. Just one of many New York stories that I took a look at in a 1997 article, New York Lost and Found.

According to Wikipedia  (I know, but it's handy), it was an AIA Gold Medal winner and one of Stanford White's best works:
"To hold its own with the towering commercial blocks surrounding it, both built and to come, its entrance was through a portico supported by six pale green granite columns, fully 30 feet tall. The building was raised on a marble plinth and built of specially molded bricks in two slightly varied tonalities in a diaper pattern and white and colored architectural terracotta details. It featured a low saucer dome covered in yellow and green tiling, with a prominent gilded lantern. The pediment sculptures by the German-born Adolph Alexander Weinman were tinted by the painter Henry Siddons Mowbray, giving the building a polychromy unusual in American Beaux-Arts architecture. Extensive mosaics and Guastavino tile gave the interior a Byzantine aspect."
You know, All that is solid melts into air and all that.

For a more detailed account, see:
Leland M. Roth, McKim, Mead & White, Architects, Harper & Row, New York, 1983, pp. 275-279.

Article on the demolition from the New York Times archive, May 6, 1919:

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