Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

Commercial Building on Fourth Avenue

Commercial building on Fourth Avenue

This building sits in what may be the densest block of great architecture in North America, and no one pays attention to it. It is not mentioned in the various guides to Fourth Avenue, so old Pa Pitt does not know the architect or whether the building even has a name. When the building was put up, it was apparently at 93 and 95, according to the numbers over the doors; but its address is now 311 Fourth Avenue. A classified ad in the Dispatch from 1890 mentions the firm of Black & Baird as lending money at 95 Fourth Avenue. The National Real Estate Journal in 1922 shows 311 as the home of the Freehold Real Estate Co.; if the address numbers had changed by then, this is that building.

As a work of architecture, the only thing that can be said against it is that it does not compete with the works of Daniel Burnham, Alden & Harlow, Frederick Osterling, and the other great names whose works line this street. If it is a work of one of those masters, then it is a lesser work—but certainly not one to be ashamed of. In any other block it would be one of the more distinguished buildings. The large windows on the second and third floors suggest workshops of some kind. The ornamentation is artistic and in exactly the right proportion to accent rather than unbalance the architectural forms.

Any readers who know more about the origin and history of this building are earnestly invited to comment.

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