On November 14, 1909 the New-York Tribune reported on "a transaction in the lower Madison avenue district which attracted widespread attention." The Herald Square Realty Company had purchased the two four-story houses at 76 and 78 Madison Avenue that, only a few weeks earlier, the sellers had leased to the straw hat maker Blum & Koch. The firm had no interest in the old brownstones, however. "On that site is to be erected by the purchasing company a twelve story mercantile structure," said the article. Blum & Koch's 21-year lease guaranteed them the use of the eight lower floors, while subletting the upper floors.