UES045-03.jpg (73407 bytes) New York Architecture Images-Upper East Side

Seventh Regiment Armory Landmark


Charles W. Clinton


640 Park Ave., Bet. East 66th & East  67th.






red brick, limestone trim


Government Armory






The Park Avenue facade of the Seventh Regiment Armory evokes the fortified palazzi of north Italian city-states from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The proportions of the three square towers (the central tower was originally topped by a two-story open bell tower) as well as the insistently flat surfaces of pressed red brick and granite trim mark the building as a High Victorian production. The entryway of bronze gates and six-inch thick oak doors with musket ports is large enough to allow a four abrest formation to march in and out of the building. The architect was Charles W. Clinton, a veteran of the Regiment and a student of Richard Upjohn, and the premier Gothic revivalist in the United States. Clinton’s later work, executed in partnership with William Hamilton Russell, centered on skyscraper design influenced to a certain degree by the Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.

This is the only armory in the United States to be built and furnished with private funds. The interior is distinguished by two features; a large drill floor, covered by an impressive iron roof, and the lavish Veteran’s Room and adjoining library (known today as the Trophy Room), designed by a group of artists working under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Other designers who contributed to the building included the Herter Brothers, Alexander Roux, Pottier & Stymus, Kimbel & Cabus, and Marcotte & Company.

In 1909, a floor was added to the administration area; in 1930 a fifth floor was added and the third and fourth floors were redone. The first and second floors, however, are unchanged. A landscaped areaway behind a low railing surrounds the building on all but the Lexington Avenue side. The Armory is a National Historic Landmark.

The Seventh Regiment was formed in 1806. It has a long list of battle honors (including service in the War of 1812, The Civil War, and both World Wars). During public disturbances (such as the civil riots of the 1830s and 40s) the Regiment controlled and subdued civilian crowds and protected private and city property from looting and vandalism. For a complete history of the Seventh Regiment see our historical article titled "The 7th NY and the Naming of the National Guard"

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs

  Andrew S. Dolkart, "Touring The Upper East Side, Walks in Five Historic 
Districts" (published by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, 1995):

"Charles Clinton, a veteran of the Seventh, designed what is generally 
considered to be the prototype model for the urban armory - a 
medieval-inspired administration building set in front of a large drill 
shed. The massive brick administration building, with its heavy base 
and mock-fortress features - such as crenellations and slits for 
crossbow arrows - is an imaginative structure borrowing elements from 
various medieval styles. The arched drill hall is supported by iron 
trusses resembling those of contemporary railroad station sheds. Urban 
armories not only served as drillhalls for volunteer militia, but were 
also primate men's clubs with appropriately elaborate interior decor. 
No regiment was more exclusive than the Seventh, known as the 'silk 
stocking' regiment, and the interiors of its armory reflect that 
status. The armory contains some of the finest surviving 19th Century 
rooms in America, including the Veteran's Room and Library (now the 
Trophy Room), which were the earliest major commissions of the 
Associated Artists, the decorated firm established by Louis Comfort 
Tiffany. Other rooms were decorated by Alexander Roux Co., L. Marcotte 
Co., Herter Brothers, and Pottier Stymus, all leading American 
decorating firms. The armory was endangered in 1980-81 by an imprudent 
plan to construct a highrise luxury hotel or apartment building above 
the drill hall and, more recently, by proposals to mar the interiors 
with exposed sprinklers. A preservation campaign spearheaded by the 
Friends of the Armory was successful in gaining landmark designation 
for much of the interior in 1994."

James Trager, "Park Avenue, Street of Dreams" (Atheneum, 1900), 

"The 7th Regiment, formed in 1806, had served in the war of 1812 and 
had gained some powerful friends by its performance in the Astor Place 
riots of 1847. It was unified in 1860 at the newly built Tomkins Market 
Armory, on the east side of the Bowery between 6th and 7th Streets, and 
played an important part at the outset of the Civl War, protecting the 
nation's capital when it was cut off by rebel forces in Maryland. Its 
members included included a number of socially prominent New Yorkers, 
and its spelendid new the nation's only armory built and 
furnished with private funds....Youngsters enrolled in the very social 
Knickerbocker greys exercised twice each week under the iron roof of 
the great drill hall. Today the armory is home to the 2nd Brigade, 42nd 
Infantry Division, and the 1st Batallion, 107th Infanty, New York Army 
National Guard."
  The Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City - restoration of the 
historic site in New York
Magazine Antiques, Jan, 1999 by Mary Anne Hunting

On January 15 the Forty-fifth Annual Winter Antiques Show will open at 
the Seventh Regiment Armory, which occupies the block between 
Sixty-sixth and Sixty-seventh Streets on Park Avenue in New York City. 
The show is one of many events that have drawn thousands of visitors 
into the magnificent fifty-four thousand square foot Drill Room  since 1879. 
However, many visitors are probably unaware of the 
significance of this monolithic building - a prototype for hundreds of 
armories across the United States.(1)

Distinguished by its functional design and architecture, the armory is 
also celebrated for the splendor of the decorations executed by some of 
the most talented artisans of the day, its collections of decorative 
and fine arts, and its history, which is a testament to the Seventh 
Regiment and the community it served until 1947.(2) Although this 
landmarked building is now sadly in poor condition, it is still the 
military palace that forty thousand subscribers lined up to see when it 
officially opened its massive doors in 1880.(6)

The Seventh Regiment, known as the silk stocking regiment for its 
prestigious roster of members, was the largest and most admired 
volunteer militia in the country during the nineteenth century. Its 
nucleus was formed in 1806 after British frigates, blockading New York 
Harbor, fired at passing vessels that resisted a search for British 
deserters, and in so doing killed an American helmsmen. The first four 
companies of artillery in what became the Seventh Regiment were created 
by volunteers after a mass rally called for reprisals for this death. 
It was given the name Seventh Regiment, National Guard, State of New 
York, in 1847.

New York City came to depend on this militia, which was regularly 
called on to quell civil disorders such as the Astor Place Riot of 1849 
when it dispersed a mob of twenty thousand, driving away "the bleeding 
rioters, demoralized and defeated, from the streets".(6) 
It also helped fight large fires and took part in protecting citizens 
and businesses. The Seventh Regiment participated in important events, 
such as the inaugurations of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 and the Statue 
of Liberty in 1886, as well as other civic ceremonies such as
receiving the remains of President Lincoln upon their arrival in this 
city, guarding them at the City Hall, and of acting as the special 
escort and guard of honor in the great and memorable demonstration upon 
their removal from the city.(7)

The Seventh Regiment's first home, shared with a public market, was in 
the Italianate cast-iron Tompkins Market completed in 1860 on the lower 
East Side. However, by 1868 it was apparent that the regiment needed to 
be in a neighborhood more convenient to its members as well as the 
population it protected, which was migrating north. In addition to a 
large hall in which to drill and ample storage for arms and ammunition, 
the members wanted a ceremonial setting in which to impress recruits 
with the regiment's glorious past. The armory also functioned much like 
men's clubs of New York and London, which served social and sometimes 
business purposes.

The first effort to obtain a site at Reservoir square (now Bryant Park) 
was opposed by neighbors who feared the devaluation of their real 
estate. In 1875 the city appropriated a lot for the armory on Fourth 
Avenue (renamed Park Avenue in 1881).

The regimental Board of Officers had originally anticipated that the 
city would contribute $350,000 for the new building, but partly owing 
to a lasting depression, this did not materialize. The regiment 
realized it had to make an earnest effort to build the necessary armor by subscriptions from 
the active and veteran members of the Regiment, and from the liberal 
citizens, business men, and tax-payers of the city of New York.(8)

Donations poured in not only from such prominent New Yorkers as John 
Jacob Astor, William H. Vanderbilt, E Augustus Schermerhorn, William C. 
Rhinelander, and James Lenox, but also from the growing middle class, 
which saw an opportunity to invest in its protection from civil strife. 
About $90,000 was raised from members of the regiment, $27,000 from 
veterans, $86,000 from the community, $33,000 from businesses, and 
$151,000 from a bond issue. This was enough to raise the building but 
not to furnish it.(9)

In April 1879, when the shell of the armory was nearing completion, a 
committee of members and veterans began organizing a spectacular, 
two-week-long fair to raise money for the decoration of the building. 
Opened by President Rutherford B. Hayes on November 17, 1879, the fair 
was eventually extended for a third week The focal point in the 
lavishly decorated Drill Room was a central forty-foot hexagonal arbor 
festooned with flowers, vines, evergreens, and moss. 
The surrounding booths, designed by each of the ten 
companies in the regiment, composed what one contemporary called a 
"tournament of taste to which the companies of the regiment have 
challenged each other."(10) There were temples, pavilions, gateways, 
tents, and marquees of Byzantine, Moorish, Chinese, Venetian, Persian, 
Egyptian, English Gothic, Queen Anne, and even English military 
inspiration. A vast array of expensive goods was offered for sale, 
including carriages, boats, organs, jewelry, safes, even Angora cats 
and fox terriers.(11) Competition among the companies was fierce to 
realize the largest profit and thereby win the silver punch bowl 
offered by Brooks Brothers, the maker of the regimental uniforms.

The fair also provided a variety of entertainments, which included 
ventriloquists, shooting galleries, magic shows, gypsy fortune-tellers, 
Punch and Judy shows, an exhibition of nearly two hundred European and 
American paintings and prints from private collections, and an 
exhibition of yacht models from the New York Yacht Club. There was a 
grocery store, Moses' Turkish Bazaar, a tobacco room, toy store, candy 
store, Old Curiosity Shop, and Oriental Tea Room. As the attractions 
varied each day, it behooved visitors to rerum frequently - and they 
did. The New York Times reported:

A peculiarity of the Seventh-Regiment New Armory Fair is that every day 
the crowd is larger, more enthusiastic, and more liberal in their 
purchases, and more reckless in their patronage of prize drawings than 
on any preceding day.(12)

The fair raised $140,550 - the equivalent of $2.2 million today.(13) 
Harpers Weekly reported that such "extraordinary results" were 
"evidence of the high place which the Seventh Regiment now holds in the 
hearts of the people of New York."(14)

The armory was designed by the New York architect Charles William 
Clinton under the close supervision of Colonel Emmons Clark 
(1827-1905), the regiment's commander from 1864 to 1889. Clinton too 
was a member of the regiment and had created four company rooms in the 
Tompkins Market Armory. His design for the Park Avenue armory is 
riotously eclectic, with romantic, exotic, and purely military 
elements, and an emphasis on castellation. Strong, dignified, and 
impenetrable, the armory became increasingly medieval as plans 
progressed, despite the Second Empire mansard roof.

Originally three stories high, the classically proportioned front 
facade was dominated by a slender central tower flanked by two 
stabilizing turrets capped with battlements. 
The base of the building is rusticated granite on which rest 
two-foot-thick walls of Philadelphia pressed brick accented with 
horizontal bands, sill courses, and quoins of granite. The entrance in 
the base of the central tower - with six-inch-thick oak doors wide 
enough to admit four men marching abreast - is protected by an immense 
bronze gate made by Mitchell, Vance and Company (1860-1933) of New York 
City, that is topped by the regiment's coat of arms.

Sadly, much of the original monumentality was lost during a restoration 
begun in 1909. A fourth floor was inserted into the mansard roof, and 
the slender top of the central tower was removed, to be replaced by the 
present crenellations (see Pl. II). The roof line was altered again in 
1931 when a fifth floor was added.

Taking inspiration from the architecture of railroad terminals, where 
the train shed extends behind the terminal building, the architect 
planned for two buildings joined: the Administrative Building and the 
Drill Room. Clinton's specific inspiration was Grand Central Depot in 
New York City, which was built between 1869 and 1871. Its train shed, 
at the time the largest unobstructed interior in the United States,(15) 
was supported by a wrought-iron truss system engineered by Robert 
Griffith Hatfield (1815-1879), who also served as a consultant on the 
Drill Room, which was developed by Charles Macdonald (1837-1928), the 
president of the Delaware Bridge Company. The so-called balloon-shed 
construction consists of a vault supported by eleven wrought-iron 
arched trusses, each spanning 187 feet from side to side. The building 
is reinforced by masonry buttresses. The Drill Room was one of the 
first privately built structures in the United States to use iron 
trusses, and it is today the oldest extant building of this kind in the 

The original floor of the Drill Room survives despite extraordinarily 
heavy use by spectators, marching men, automobiles, and Army tanks. It 
is made of thick, narrow planks of Georgia pine set on sleepers of Long 
Island locust embedded in asphalt, which rests on a platform of 
concrete. Light was provided by two stories of clerestory windows 
running the length of the room as well as a number of windows hi the 
north and south walls that were filled in during renovations between 
1911 and 1913. There were originally also gas chandeliers with 
porcelain reflectors to light the huge room at night. George C. Flint 
and Company of New York City provided black walnut cases for the 
regiments Remington rifles along the west end of the room. Seating for 
about eleven hundred people was provided on ash settees with mahogany 
backs in the galleries on the east and west ends and on raised 
platforms lining the perimeter at ground level.(17) The room was the 
scene not only of drills by the regiment but also by the Knickerbocker 
Greys, a boys' drill school founded in 1881. As intended from the 
beginning, it has also been used for many community functions such as 
music festivals, tennis tournaments, grand balls, and art fairs. In 
September 1998 it even served as a place of worship when part of the 
nearby Central Synagogue burned.

A fascinating and forgotten feature of the Drill Room is the original 
painted decoration designed by the Hudson River school painter Jasper 
F. Cropsey and executed by John Sulesky (see Pl. V).(18) The painting 
was begun before the art fair and long before most other interior 
decorative schemes had been planned. Cropsey's elaborate specifications 
survive for paint, stain, and other decorative treatments for the 
walls, pine rafters, lantern, trusses, balconies, and window frames of 
the room.(19) They include fourteen full-scale paper stencils and 
drawings depicting stylized stars, shields, floral and foliate designs 
(see Pls. VI, VII), as well as the coat of arms of 1835 that was 
painted above the third-floor balcony on the western wall.(20)

Some people thought the decoration of the Drill Room was too 
complicated and not in keeping with the propose of the room, while 
others felt that the bright and lively designs helped alleviate the 
monotony of the architecture.(21) In any event, Daniel Appleton 
(1852-1929), who was colonel of the Seventh Regiment from 1889 to 1920, 
complained in 1897 of the "'lager beer saloon' effect" of the 
decoration,(22) and it was painted over during his administration.

There are fourteen rooms on the first floor of the armory that Kevin 
Stayton, the curator of decorative arts at the Brooklyn Museum of Art 
in Brooklyn, New York, has declared "are the single most important 
collection of nineteenth-century interiors to survive intact in one 
building...[and] form a large and critical part of the foundation of 
our understanding of the an of this em."(23) They represent the work of 
the most prestigious interior decorating firms of the day: A. Kimbel 
and J. Cabus, L. Marcotte and Company, Pottier and Stymus Manufacturing 
Company, Roux and Company, George C. Flint and Company, Herter 
Brothers, and Associated Artists. As fine as the most elegant interiors 
of private clubs and the most ornate residences in New York City, the 
armory interiors are among the few of this stature to survive.(24)

George C. Flint and Company decorated the severe and dignified entrance 
hall [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2 OMITTED], the corridors on the first 
and second floors, and the Company A Room.(25) The central feature of 
the entrance hall is the monumental split staircase made of wrought 
iron sheathed in oak, which also panels the walls. The pair of bronze 
torcheres at the base of the stairs was made by Mitchell, Vance and 
Company Originally gaslit, they are among the few in the armory that 
were converted to electricity rather than replaced in 1897 with 
wrought-iron fixtures supplied by the John L. Gaumer Company of 

The Field and Staff Room (Pl. XI), also in the Renaissance-revival 
style, was originally furnished by Pottier and Stymus, the firm that 
decorated the rooms belonging to Companies D, E, G, and I. This firm 
also supplied the woodwork in two regimental rooms on the second floor. 
Originally elaborately stenciled on the walls and ceiling, the Field 
and Staff Room has undergone substantial changes. Between 1895 and 1898 
additional mahogany lockers were built and the wainscoting was 
extended, and in 1933 it was "completely redecorated and partly 
refurnished" by the A. H. Davenport Company.(26)

Herter Brothers of New York City decorated eight rooms in the armory: 
the Board of Officers' Room, Reception Room, Colonel's Room, 
Non-Commissioned Staff Room, Memorial Room (and its conversion into the 
Library in 1895), Company C Room, Company H Room, and, in 1895, the 
Quartermasters Room. Under the sole artistic direction of Christian 
Herter (1839-1883) from 1870 to 1883, it was the most prolific 
decorating firm of the Gilded Age and championed the principles of the 
American aesthetic movement. Christian Herter's decorative vocabulary 
of two-dimensional designs of abstract floral and geometric motifs 
covering nearly every surface owed much to his English predecessors 
Owen Jones, Christopher Dresser, and Charles Locke Eastlake, among 

The Board of Officers' Room (Pl. X) is today the least altered of the 
Herter rooms at the armory because in 1932, when it was renovated, A. 
H. Davenport Company was asked to simply repaint the stenciling in an 
effort to maintain the original intent in honor of Emmons Clark, to 
whom the renovated room was dedicated. As a result of this "interesting 
(and early) instance" of historic preservation, Jay Shockley wrote in 
his most impressive designation report for the New York City Landmarks 
Preservation Commission, the room is "of supreme importance as one of 
the very few surviving interiors designed by Herter Brothers in the 
United States."(27) Although it is now in poor condition, a photograph 
taken in 1981 shows the remarkable stenciling and Renaissance revival 
mahogany woodwork, also by Herter Brothers. The curator of the Seventh 
Regiment Fund, Paul B. Haydon, who wrote his master's thesis on the 
Herter Brothers rooms at the armory, had this to say:

The "frescoed" ceiling in the Board of Officers' Room is nothing less 
than spectacular. It is divided with bandings of different flowers, 
repeating those found in the main field and frieze, while also 
including the "passion" flower, horse chestnuts, and other flora that 
were wildly popular throughout the aesthetic period....testament not 
only to the laudable design capabilities of Herter Brothers, but to 
their excellence in execution as well.(28)

The portrait of George Washington by Rembrandt Peale that originally 
hung over the fireplace in the Board of Officers' Room was moved to the 
Colonel's Room (see Pl. XII) during a renovation of that room by 
Davenport between 1932 and 1947, at which time the French black walnut 
overmantel there was reworked to receive the painting. The portrait was 
given to the Seventh Regiment by four prominent New Yorkers in 1861.

The Herter Brothers rooms at the armory are still largely overshadowed 
by the two rooms decorated by Louis Comfort Tiffany and the firm 
Associated Artists: the Veterans' Room (frontispiece and Pls. I, XIV) 
and the Library (Pls. m, IV). They were at least three times more 
expensive than the Herter rooms.(29)

Associated Artists, founded in 1879, was a collaboration between Louis 
Comfort Tiffany, the son of the founder of Tiffany and Company, the 
textile designer Candace Thurber Wheeler, the Hudson River school 
painter and decorator Samuel Colman, and the ornamental woodcarver 
Lockwood de Forest. The firm, which gave the aesthetic movement an 
American cast, was convinced that the most beautiful and harmonious 
interiors are the result of the close collaboration of many hands.

For the armory rooms, Colman provided the subtle color harmonies and 
decorative stenciling, de Forest the wood carving, Wheeler the 
embroidered hangings, and Tiffany the colored-glass tries and windows. 
The young Stanford White (of the firm McKim, Mead and White) was a 
consultant on the architectural composition, including the built-in 
furniture, fireplaces, latticework, and inset panels on the wainscoting 
of the Veterans' Room. Francis Davis Millet and George Henry Yewell 
researched and painted the decorative frieze, and it is thought that 
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) and David Maitland Armstrong 
(1836-1918) may also have worked on the room.(30) But it was Tiffany 
who provided the synthesis. As Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, a curator at 
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has noted, "His was not an intellectual 
approach to his art; rather it was a sensory one, providing a visual 
feast of color, light, and texture."(31)

The Veterans' Room and Library represent an amalgamation of decorative 
ideas described in 1885 as "Greek, Moresque, and Celtic, with a dash of 
the Egyptian, the Persian and the Japanese."(32) In keeping with the 
theme of military triumph, the frieze around the top of the Veterans' 
Room (Pl. XIV) painted by Yewell and Millet presents a progression of 
twenty cultures and twenty battles from the Stone Age to the Civil War. 
The wainscoting incorporates a band of grotesque carvings of 
fire-breathing dragons in the Celtic or Old Saxon style, and 
stained-iron plaques with studs originally picked out in silver 
resemble rested plates of armor. The doors leading to the Library have 
details that mimic hammered and studded shields, and the two large 
columns in the Veterans' Room (see Pl. XIV) are wrapped with evocations 
of chain marl. The elaborate wrought-iron radiator covers, candelabra, 
and chandeliers also evoke weapons and defense. Among the innovative 
details are the wallpaper printing rollers that top the columns 
supporting the elaborately carved mantel (see frontispiece and Pl. I). 
Printing cylinders are also used as the legs of the oak table, while 
printing blocks are set into the chairbacks. The painted plaster 
overmantel of an eagle swooping down on an agitated snake is made from 
molten glass, a metal conduit, a glass eye used in taxidermy, and the 
bottom of a champagne bottle - the sort of recycling that Tiffany 
frequently favored.(33) The coffered wood ceiling (see Pls. I, XIV), 
symmetrically divided into squares, has designs resembling chain marl 
stenciled in aluminum foil - then a novel material as expensive as 
gold, according to Haydon.

The focal point of the Veterans' Room is the fireplace wall, which is 
pure Tiffany. The intense peacock-blue glass blocks above the fireplace 
opening illuminate the surrounding architecture and dramatically draw 
attention to the light. Nanking the fireplace are two of the five 
Tiffany stained-glass windows in the room, which, Frelinghuysen claims, 
"reveal an abstraction found in stained glass virtually for the first 
time."(34) On the wall to the left of the fireplace an intricately 
detailed lattice screen encloses a balcony reminiscent of one in a 

The walls between the wainscoting and the freize were once covered with 
a blue-gray wallpaper (of which a fragment survives) that is hand 
stenciled in silver and copper leaf with designs that resemble the 
chain-mail motif at the top of the large columns. The curtains and 
portieres designed by Wheeler are also gone, although the details of 
the portieres are known through a photograph of 1884. The portieres 
were made of Japanese brocade bordered with plush simulating leopard 
skin. The central design consisted of velvet appliques depicting the 
"days of Knighthood and romantic warfare."(36) Overlapping steel rings 
sewn onto the hangings resemble chain mail.

The veterans of the regiment were given exclusive control of this room 
until 1889, while the adjoining Library was always intended for both 
veterans and active members of the regiment. A brochure written by the 
veterans in 1881 describes the relationship of the two rooms:

The but a barrier of books, over which the younger men may 
look across in to the Elysium which awaits them when they shall become 
Veterans, and into which the Veterans may look back with fatherly 
interest upon the studious young militants, who are ripening for the 
time when they, too, will "Shoulder the crutch/And show how fields were 

The Library was designed to hold two thousand books, but within fifteen 
years it was turned into a regimental museum, in which the silver, 
trophies, and other plate are now stored. The central feature of the 
room is a magnificent cast-plaster basketwork vaulted ceiling 
embellished with decoration that was originally painted salmon and 
dotted with medallions once covered with silver leaf. Before glass 
doors were added between 1911 and 1914, the bookcases on the ground 
level were enclosed by iron gates and chain-link portieres, while the 
ones around the gallery had curtains. The iron railing surrounding the 
gallery is decorated with a weblike pattern in copper. The marvelous 
chain-link chandelier and four wall fixtures were made by Mitchell, 
Vance and Company, probably to the specifications of Associated 
Artists. Only one of the two staircases to the gallery survives, but it 
retains its mahogany lattice screen and iron gate (Pl. IV). The gallery 
walls on the east and west were once stenciled. The latter still 
retains its abstract stained-glass window designed by Tiffany.

Since their inception the Associated Artists' rooms have been treasured 
for their originality, craftsmanship, and exquisite decorative detail. 
In the 1880s the Veterans' Room was called "the most magnificent 
apartment of the kind in this country,"(38) and a century later it was 
called "a major achievement of its era."(39) However, in 1881 the 
critic William Crary Brownell (1851-1928) wrote in Scribner's Monthly 
that he objected to the "whimsical subtlety" of the imagery, claiming 
that "a similar spirit would decorate the exterior of a post-office 
with letter-boxes, or cover the walls of a bedroom with pictures of 
towels and tooth-brushes."(40) He also condemned the collaboration(41) 
that was at the heart of the American Renaissance-an opinion seconded 
by a reporter in 1881:

One leaves the rooms with the feeling that a great deal of talent and 
industry has been rather fruitlessly expended upon a work which any one 
of the artists employed would have made more effective.(42)

The second floor of the armory was devoted largely to the rooms created 
by the individual companies, which vied with each other "to secure the 
most artistic designs and the best mechanical execution," as Clark 
noted.(43) Each company was allotted six thousand dollars from the 
proceeds of the 1879 fair, which they used to decorate their rooms, 
although some spent more than double that amount. Among the firms 
commissioned by the companies were Pottier and Stymus, Herter Brothers, 
A. Kimbel and J. Cabus, Roux and Company, and George C. Flint and 
Company. Some of the rooms were so lavish that the New York Times 
published an article in 1880 entitled "The Seventh's New Home: Company 
Rooms Resemble the Private Libraries of the Aesthetic Millionaire - 
Every Convenience for 1,000 men."(44)

Each company room had a fireplace, and there were lockers for the 
members along the walls. The decoration was altered over the years to 
accommodate changing tastes with the exception of Company K's room (see 
Pls. VIII, IX). Its members were among the most affluent in the 
regiment and maintained the original decoration of 1880. Except for a 
missing frieze around the top of the walls, the architecture of the 
room is much as it always was. The decor was designed by the architect 
Sidney V. Stratton, a member of the company, who drew heavily on his 
New York House and School of Industry, the earliest building in the 
Queen Anne style in the city, which had also been completed in 1880 
(Fig. 5).(45) Paul Haydon observed that the Company K Room looks as if 
it were the New York House and School of Industry turned inside out. 
The furnishings, which are no longer in the room, were provided by A. 
Kimbel and J. Cabus, a firm that worked extensively in the Renaissance 
and Gothic styles.(46)

The armory is still much sought after for community events and is 
increasingly appreciated as an encyclopedia of New York's cultural and 
aesthetic climate during the late nineteenth century. With luck, this 
crumbling landmark will soon be restored to the glory of which the 
Seventh Regiment was so proud.

For their assistance with this article I would like to thank David L. 
Dalva, Paul B. Haydon, Colonel George Kantor, and Jay Shockley.

1 The overtly fortified design of the Seventh Regiment Armory was 
copied until about 1910, when less defensive designs became popular. 
See Robert M. Fogelson, America's Armories: Architecture, Society, and 
Public Order (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 
1989), pp. 48-55, 189.

2 In 1947, when the federal government reorganized the National Guard, 
the Seventh Regiment ceased to exist as an active military unit. Many 
of the regiment's archives are in the New-York Historical Society in 
New York City.

3 Since 1942 the building has been managed by the New York State 
Division of Military and Naval Affairs. Recently there has been 
significant water damage to the interior decorative finishes. The 
Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy has proposed an ambitious plan for 
stabilization, restoration, and development. See the brochure "A 
Proposal for the Restoration and Revitalization of the Seventh Regiment 
Armory" (Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy, New York City, 1998) and 
two articles on the condition of the armory in the New York Times, 
March 6 and 7, 1998.

4 New York Times, April 10, 1880.

5 Emmons Clark, History of the Seventh Regiment of New York, 1806-1889 
(Seventh Regiment, New York, 1890), vol. 2, p. 290.

6 "The New York Seventh," Harper's Weekly, vol. 24 (May 8, 1880), p. 

7 Clark, History of the Seventh Regiment, vol. 2, p. 135.

8 Resolution adopted by the Board of Officers on January. 15, 1876 (see 
ibid., p. 238).

9 Fogelson, America's Armories, pp. 54-55.

10 Edward Strahan [Earl Shinn], "The Seventh Regiment Fair," Art 
Amateur, vol. 2, no. 1 (December 1879), p. 2.

11 See the New York Times, November 14, 16, 18, and 25, 1879.

12 November 28, 1879.

13 Clark, History of the Seventh Regiment, vol. 2, p. 301. The value of 
the sum today was acquired from the "Inflation Calculator"on the 
Internet at

14 "The New York Seventh," p. 295.

15 Both buildings of Grand Central Depot were, in turn, inspired by 
Saint Pancras Station (built 1863-1868) in London and the adjoining 
Midland Grand Hotel (built 1866-1876). See Roger Dixon and Stefan 
Muthesius, Victorian Architecture (Oxford University Press, New York, 
1978), pp. 81, 83.

16 "A Proposal for the Restoration and Revitalization of the Seventh 
Regiment Armory," p. 2.

17 Clark, History of the Seventh Regiment, vol. 2, pp. 298-299.

18 Letter from Cropsey, Warwick, New York, to Maria Cropsey, New York 
City, October 18, 1879 (Newington-Cropsey Foundation, 
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, file four JFC-Maria 1870s). Sulesky (also 
Sullejewski and Sulisky) was listed as a painter in New York City 
directories between 1873 and 1887. I would like to thank Christian 
Bjone, Tom Nimen, and Michael Kozmiuk for their help with the rendering 
in Plate V.

19 "Specifications of Painting, and Materials required in finishing, 
and decorating the Large Drill Room of the 7th Regiment Armory on 
Lexington Avenue" (Newington-Cropsey Foundation), also Archives of 
American Art, New York City, Cropsey Papers, NCF, microfilm roll 905.

20 Cropsey's 1880 drawing of the coat of arms, which is after one 
created by Asher Taylor (1800-1878) in 1835, is illustrated in 
ANTIQUES, November 1986, p. 1004, Fig. 8.

21 New York Times, April 10, 1880.

22 Quoted in the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission report, 
"Seventh Regiment Armory Interior..." (Landmarks Preservation 
Commission, New York City, 1994), section 2, p. 20.

23 Quoted ibid., section 1, p. 12.

24 Ibid., section 1, p. 3.

25 Paul B. Haydon, the curator of the Seventh Regiment Fund, recently 
discovered that Flint decorated the Company A Room (Regular Monthly 
Meeting Book, 18761894, Company A, September 27, 1880). The Meeting 
Book is housed in the armory.

26 Quoted in "Seventh Regiment Armory Interior," section 2, p. 17. 
Irving and Cassone of Boston bought A. H. Davenport in 1914.

27 Ibid., section 2, p. 9.

28 "The Seventh Regiment Armory: An Investigation and Analysis of a 
Herter Brothers Interior" (Masters thesis, Historic Preservation 
Program, Columbia University, New York City, 1991), pp. 55-56.

29 Profits from the art fair amounting to $20,000 were spent on 
decorating the Veterans' Room and $10,200 on the Library (see Sophia 
Duckworth Schachter, "The Seventh Regiment Armory of New York City: A 
History of Its Construction and Decoration" [Master's thesis, Historic 
Preservation Program, Columbia University, 1985], pp. 49, 56). I would 
like to thank Mrs. Schachter for kindly sharing her thesis with me.

30 William C. Brownell, "Decoration in the Seventh Regiment Armory," 
Scribner's Monthly, vol. 22, no. 3 (July 1881), p. 371. Although 
Brownell states that Saint-Gaudens and Armstrong worked on the room, 
there is no documentary corroboration.

31 "Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum," Metropolitan 
Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 56, no. 1 (Summer 1998), p. 4.

32 "The Seventh Regiment Armory," Decorator and Furnisher, vol. 6, no. 
2 (May 1885), p. 43.

33 Mary Warner Blanchard, Oscar Wilde's America: Counter-culture in the 
Gilded Age (Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 1998), pp. 

34 "A New Renaissance: Stained Glass in the Aesthetic Period," in 
Doreen Bolger Burke et al., In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the 
Aesthetic Movement (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986), p. 

35 Blanchard, Oscar Wilde's America, p. 26.

36 Mrs. Burton Harrison, "Some Work of the 'Associated Artists,'" 
Harper's Monthly, vol. 69, no. 411 (August 1884), p. 350.

37 The Veteran's Room Seventh Regiment N G S N Y Armory (n.p., 1881), 
p. 9.

38 New York Times, April 23, 1881.

39 Marilynn Johnson, "The Artful Interior," in Burke et al., In Pursuit 
of Beauty, p. 126.

40 "Decoration in the Seventh Regiment Armory," p. 375.

41 Ibid., p. 380.

42 "The Seventh Regiment Veterans' Room," American Architect and 
Building News, vol. 9 (June 18, 1881), p. 299.

43 History of the Seventh Regiment, vol. 2, p. 285.

44 April 10, 1880.

45 See the report "The New York House and School of Industry, 120 West 
16th..." (New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1990).

46 Marilynn Johnson, "Art Furniture: Wedding the Beautiful to the 
Useful," in Burke et al., In Pursuit of Beauty, pp. 155-156.

MARY ANNE HUNTING writes frequently about architecture and the 
decorative arts.

COPYRIGHT 1999 Brant Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group



Press Office

Tuesday, September 14, 1999

State Moves to Preserve, Protect Historic and Cultural Landmark

Governor George E. Pataki today announced the first major step taken by New York State to restore the landmark Seventh Regiment Armory in Manhattan, along with the creation of an advisory committee to help guide its restoration.

Empire State Development Corporation (ESD), the State's lead privatization agency, working with the facility's current administrator, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, has selected E & Y Kenneth Leventhal Real Estate Group (Ernst & Young) to provide consulting services to attract developers and/or operators to preserve and finance capital improvements at the Armory.

Ernst and Young will analyze the existing structural conditions of the building, recommend and evaluate physical improvements and uses, help develop a public/private partnership mechanism to finance capital improvements and operations, and assist ESD in writing and evaluating a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a future developer/operator.

Governor Pataki said, "The Seventh Regiment Armory is one of New York's great historic and cultural treasures. For too long, this building has been left unprotected from time and the elements. The time is now to explore ways to raise funds to pay for repairs and on- going maintenance, increase revenue, and preserve and restore this historically and culturally important Armory. We must preserve and protect this 19th century landmark's future in the next millennium."

The Governor announced he has created a Seventh Regiment Armory Advisory Council to explore and develop preservation options consistent with the best interests of the State, City, and local community.

The Council, to be headed by the Chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, will serve as advisors to the Governor, and include representatives from the Governor's Office, the NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs, NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, NYS Division of the Budget, NYS Office of General Services, the Mayor's Office of the City of New York, the Seventh Regiment Fund, the Veterans of the Seventh Regiment, the East 66th and 67th Street Block Association, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

The Council will work directly with the designated consultant to not only draft a plan to solicit proposals for future preservation and redevelopment initiatives, but also to gauge the potential impact of these proposals on the quality of life in the surrounding community. In addition, the Council will submit recommendations for the housing, care and preservation of the historical artifacts, paintings and documents at the armory.

"The Advisory Council will bring all concerned parties together to ensure the aesthetic beauty and historical significance of the Seventh Regiment Armory are preserved for generations to come," Governor Pataki said. "Local residents, concerned veterans, the City and State all have a vested interest in the Armory's future, and this Council will give them all a voice in how it is preserved."

The Seventh Regiment Armory, located at 643 Park Avenue in New York City, was built between 1877 and 1880 for the Seventh Regiment of Manhattan. The regiment was originally dubbed the "Silk Stocking Regiment" because of its socially prominent members. A descendent of the colonial militias, the Seventh Regiment has a long and distinguished history of participation in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War as well as both World Wars.

The Armory suffers from significant deterioration. The roof, masonry walls and windows leak, ceilings are falling, plaster is deteriorating, and building systems are inadequate. Heat ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are non-existent. Millions of dollars will be required for necessary capital improvements.

The Seventh Regiment Armory was designed by Charles Clinton, a regimental member. The main, one story drill hall measures 200 feet by 300 feet, its 80 foot-high roof supported by a truss system. It is one of the largest non-columned spaces in the United States. The smaller, public social rooms such as the library and meeting rooms were designed by Louis C. Tiffany, Stanford White and other well-known firms of the time and remain some of the finest surviving examples of American interior design of its era. The building was designated a National Landmark in 1986 and as a New York City Landmark in 1967. The interiors were designated a New York City Landmark in 1994.

The facility hosts many groups and accommodates many uses. The main hall is rented out to antique, art and antiquarian book shows from Labor Day to Memorial Day. The period rooms are sites for corporate-sponsored events and social functions. The Regiment (now called the 107th Corps Support Group of the New York Army National Guard) and a military youth corps known as the Knickerbocker Greys, drill there. The 7th Regiment Mess, a privately-run restaurant at the Armory, is open to the public.

While the military presence at the Armory will continue, Ernst & Young and its team will analyze existing conditions and upgrade requirements, as well as help define programming goals in order to prepare an RFP scheduled for issuance in November 1999 with responses due at the end of January 2000.