Sunday, November 17, 2013

Art Deco Delights: The New York Telephone Building

Syracuse, NY. New York Telephone (now Verizon) Building, 201 State St., Voorhees Gmelin & Walker, archs, 1928. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013

Syracuse, NY. New York Telephone (now Verizon) Building, 201 State St., Voorhees Gmelin & Walker, archs, 1928. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013

Art Deco Delights: The New York Telephone Building

I walked to Downtown yesterday to attend the Sacred Site Symposium at St. Paul's Cathedral, taking advantage of the beautiful day to look at buildings - and our streetscapes lovely and ugly.  We are fortunate to have Fayette Park, and the morning sun over the park lit of the sometimes sheer and forbidding facade of the former New York Telephone building (now Verizon), one Syracuse's most austere, and thus least appreciated Art Deco delights  Close up, the scale of the building is a little forbidding. After all, it replaced John Crouse's Italianate villa the north side of Fayette Park where it was built in 1928.  But the building looks good from a distance, especially looking north on State Street, it has some enchanting detail.

The structure hugs the corner of State and East Fayette Street, and the beige colored masonry facade - is it cut stone or cast stone? - always looks warm in the sunlight.  The original skeleton steel tower on the northwest corner of the building was replaced by an enclosed microwave tower in 1969.  This added a certain heaviness to the composition, but it is also more linked to the 1969 northern addition, and so the Art Deco building can be viewed more-or-less distinctly.  Best of all is the intricate and delicate incised carving around the doorway and large ground floor windows, on the corner, and up near the roof level. 


Syracuse, NY. New York Telephone (now Verizon) Building, East Fayette facade, 1928. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013

 Syracuse, NY. New York Telephone (now Verizon) Building, East Fayette facade, 1928. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013

 Syracuse, NY. New York Telephone (now Verizon) Building, East Fayette facade, 1928. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013

 Syracuse, NY. New York Telephone (now Verizon) Building, East Fayette facade, 1928. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013

The building was designed by Voorhees Gmelin & Walker, who were tasked with designing New York Telephone buildings across the state.  Ralph Walker, one of the great Skyscraper architects of all time, and the man most responsible for creating the iconic stepped setback skyscraper in response to New York 1916 zoning law, designed the flagship New York City telephone building, now known as the Barcley Vesey building, in 1926. The Syracuse building also shares with the New York Telephone Building annex in Buffalo, also designed by Voorhees Gmelin & Walker, and built in 1930, some decorative features, especially the extremely flat and shallow relief decoration.

Buffalo, NY. New York Telephone Building annex. Voorhees Gmelin & Walker, archs., 1930. Unlike the Syracuse building, this six-story annex mixes brick and stone facing. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013.

 Syracuse, NY. New York Telephone (now Verizon) Building,State Street facade.  There was damage to the facing visible here in 2009, but it has since been repaired. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2009

Other Art Deco Delights:


 

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