Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The 1907 House of Relief Stables -- No. 7 Jay Street

photo by Alice Lum

In 1894 the New York Hospital, located on 15th Street, opened a downtown facility, the House of Relief, on the corner of Hudson and Jay Streets.  The five-story structure--the only medical facility in lower Manhattan--offered free emergency and clinical services for the downtown area.

By 1905 the facility was taxed and an annex building was planned.  The anticipated structure would serve as a stable and storage area for the ambulance vehicles and horses.  On the upper floors a modern laundry operation would handle the heaps of bed linens, towels and other items from the hospital.

Directly behind the House of Relief stood the old three-story house at 9 Jay Street where, in the 1870s, Margaret M. Krekeler had run her boarding house and restaurant.  The hospital purchased the site from the Edward C. Center estate in April 1905.  The architectural firm of Robertson & Potter was given the commission to design the new building.

Completed in 1907, the orange brick structure was based essentially on a firehouse design.  The architects reined in costs by using brick for most of the decorative elements—quoins at the corners and around the windows and bursting voussoirs above.
Creative brickwork provided most of the detailing.  The lion heads along the metal cornice closely resembled those on the House of Relief -- photo by Alice Lum
The first floor was girded in a series of brownstone bandcourses, a pressed metal cornice was adorned with lions heads and dentil molding, and on the Staple Street side a terra cotta cartouche on the third floor displayed the entwined monogram of New York Hospital.  The corner site allowed for a second vehicle entrance to the rear of the building.

Stealing the spotlight from the building proper was the graceful street bridge that connected the third floors of the House of Relief to the stable and laundry building.  The inventive overhead shortcut allowed workers to rush laundry back and forth without going to ground level or being exposed to the elements.
A graceful street bridge connected the hospital with the laundry level of the annex -- photo by Alice Lum

On the ground floor horses were groomed and fed; and ambulances were maintained.  Above, workers sweltered in steamy conditions as bundle after bundle of linens were laundered, ironed, and folded.

In 1915 the City of New York assessed the “three story brick stable” at $40,000—over half a million in today’s dollars.  But the Society of the New York Hospital was about to leave its downtown facilities.  On October 25, 1919 The Sun reported that “The New York Hospital has been acquired by the Government…and the sale also includes 9 Jay street, northwest corner of Staple street, a three story building.”
A handsome terra-cotta cartouche bears the monogram of the New York Hospital -- photo by Alice Lum

The buildings were used by the Public Health Services for years.  In the 1990s the Hospital building was filled with, appropriately, medical offices.   The ambulance and laundry building on Jay Street was being used as manufacturing space at the time.

In the mid 1990s Zoran Ladicorbic, Ltd., produced wearing apparel here.   The operation came to an abrupt halt when the U.S. Government filed suit again the manufacturer for violations of the Care Labeling Rule, violations of the Textile Act, violations of the Wool Act, and Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices in Violation of the FTC Act.

In 1998 the building was converted to a single-family residence.  The main bay doors have been replaced with modern, attractive replacements.  But otherwise the building that housed horse-drawn ambulances below and laundry facilities above is highly intact—including the picturesque street bridge.

photo by Alice Lum
Thanks to Jim Walther for suggesting this post.

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