Architecture Images-Upper East Side
Seventh Regiment Armory Landmark
|Charles W. Clinton|
|640 Park Ave., Bet. East 66th & East 67th.|
|red brick, limestone trim|
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 armory....is 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
|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
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 Library...is 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 www.westegg.com/inflation/.
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),
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
COPYRIGHT 1999 Brant Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group
GOVERNOR: FIRST STEP TO RESTORE SEVENTH REGIMENT ARMORY