Saturday, November 11, 2023

The 1908 Everett Building - 200 Park Avenue South


In 1853, the elegant Everett House hotel opened on the northwest corner of 17th Street and Fourth Avenue (renamed Park Avenue South in 1959).  Over the coming decades it would see illustrious guests like the Prince of Wales come and go.  Then, on February 9, 1907, the Real Estate Record & Guide reported that it had been sold to the Century Realty Co., noting, "The Everett one of the old landmarks of the city of New York."  A year later, the new owners announced that the venerable hotel would be replaced with a 16-story office building.  "Messrs. Goldwin, Starrett & Van Vleck...are the architects," reported the Record & Guide.

Ground was broken in September 1908, and the steel-frame structure rose with blinding speed.  Just four months later, on December 24, the New-York Tribune reported that the new Everett Building was "almost entirely occupied."  A few weeks earlier, the Record & Guide had exclaimed, "Seventeen tiers in a trifle more than four weeks, or about four stories a week!"

Overall Renaissance Revival in style, the Everett Building's tripartite design was highly influenced by the Chicago School of architecture.  And that is not surprising, given that Goldwin Starrett spend many years working in the Chicago office of architect Daniel Burnham.

The Architectural Record, December 1910 (copyright expired)

Drawing from principals of the Chicago School, the Everett Building emphasized its structural grid.  The starkly modern, terra cotta-clad mid-section was undecorated other than molded frames that further stressed the geometric motif.  As much glass as steel and masonry, the 11-story midsection flooded the interior factory and office spaces with natural light.  Renaissance style decorations adorned the third floor spandrels, while the two-story top section erupted in brilliant orange and green terra cotta tiles.

Demand for space in the new structure was such that in October 1910 its superintendent, William E. Chapman, told a reporter from the Record & Guide, "In one year there have been only two changes in tenants."  In both cases, he said, the vacancies were filled within four hours.

The entrance was originally on East 17th Street.  Real Estate Record & Guide, October 17, 1908 (copyright expired)

And while the New-York Tribune remarked that the building was "almost entirely occupied by large woollen [sic] companies," tenants from other industries took space as well.  Among them was the office of the Everett Building's architects, Goldwin Starrett & Van Vleck.  Surprisingly, it was William Aiken Starrett, a partner and brother of Goldwin Starrett, who brought unwanted publicity to the address.

On the night of July 23, 1913, actress Rose Meyer, whose stage name was Edna Adams, was walking home.  At the corner of Broadway and 50th Street, according to The Pittsburgh Press, she passed Starrett and two of his friends.  The architect said, "Don't you want to go out with me?," and when she ignored him, he asked, "Is money any object?"  Rose found a policeman and complained.  When he questioned Starrett, the architect produced a business card, and then accused Rose Meyer of stealing his gold watch and chain and $20 in cash.  She was arrested, but at the station house Starrett dropped his complaint.

William Aiken Starrett Contractors & Engineers Monthly, April 6, 1921 (copyright expired)

Just over a week later, on August 6, The New York Times reported that Rose Meyer had filed a $25,000 suit against Starrett.  "She charged that Starrett subjected her to the humiliation of being brought to the West Forty-seventh Street Police Station," said the article.

Other early tenants were A. E. Kazan & Co., rug importers, which leased the fourth floor in 1909; the Pocasset Woolen Company, which occupied the 14th floor; and William Skinner & Sons, described by Silk magazine in August 1910 as one of the largest silk establishments in the county.

The Bauer Chemical Company operated from the Everett Building in 1910 when it marketed Sanatogen, "a food-tonic."  The firm promised, "To the worker who cannot leave his office for any prolonged period, Sanatogen makes good the lack of rest and air that help his luckier brother."

Another tenant not involved in the apparel industry was W. G. Cornell Co., "specialists in plumbing, heating, ventilating and electric work."  Its success was such that in March 1913 it took additional space.  The firm's offices now engulfed the entire 17th Street side of the fifth floor.

Stursberg W. Schell & Co., fur dealers, operated from the Everett building at the time.  In the spring of 1913 it shipped a crate to George N. Tower, who nearly did not receive his order.  On May 28, The New York Times reported that a policeman noticed "two men take a large box from a truck and place it against the wall of a building near Seventh Avenue and West Twenty-sixth Street.  The patrolman ran toward the men, who promptly fled."  At the station house, the crate was opened and George N. Tower's $7,000 order of furs was found inside.   (The amount would translate to about $213,000 in 2023.)  The newspaper added, "The police believe that there is a “fence” who conducts operations in the neighborhood of West Twenty-sixth Street and Seventh Avenue and that the box was left for it."

Around 1914, the building began to see the influx of organizational headquarters, like the Employment Agencies' Protective League.  On December 22 that year, the New York Evening Telegram reported, "An emphatic protest against the unrestrained operation of a free city employment bureau with branches in the different boroughs was contained in a letter received by the Board of Aldermen to-day from William T. McGovern, representing the Employment Agencies' Protective League."  The article added, "The league also voices its opposition to the appropriation of any money for unlimited use by the new bureau."

Also in the building were the offices of the American Association of Woolen and Worsted Manufacturers, and the Textile Alliance, Inc.  On April 10, 1915, The New York Times explained that the latter "is engaged in the work of arranging for wool importations from Great Britain."

A major tenant in the textile industry was Metcalf Brothers & Co., which occupied the 12th floor.  Then, on September 20, 1919, the Record & Guide announced that the firm had purchased the building.  In reporting on the transaction, the article credited the Everett Building with beginning "the development of Fourth avenue, which resulted in the transformation of this thoroughfare from an avenue of dwellings, old hotels and small stores into a high-class mercantile center."

During World War I, apparel makers were, of course, unable to acquire German dyes.  But on June 23, 1920, Drug & Chemical Markets reported, "The Textile Alliance, Inc., authorized by the Government to undertake the purchase and sale of German dyes...has issued a list of the dyes available."   It was a sign of a return to normalcy within the garment industry.

Textile World Journal, February 7, 1920 (copyright expired)

Insurance agent David M. Shapiro's offices were in the building in 1920, when he was lured into a shady operation.  Leon Stutzin of the Bronx slightly damaged his car on February 12.  He took it to Irving Eisenstadt's De Lux Auto Painting and Trimming Company to be repaired.  The problem was, however, that  Stutzin did not have insurance to cover the cost.

The two men met with David Shapiro on February 17, took out a policy with the Automobile Insurance Company of Hartford, and later filed a claim, saying that the accident occurred on February 20.  Their ploy failed.  On July 3, the New-York Tribune reported, "Investigation by private detectives uncovered the plot."  It did not end well for any of the conspirators.  For his part, Shapiro was sentenced to State prison "for from one year and three months to two years and six months," according to The Sun.

On November 5, 1921 the New-York Tribune reported, "Seven robberies in a week, six of them in stores occupied by furriers...remained unsolved last night.  So bold have burglars become, it was reported, that they have committed robberies during the daylight hours of the Saturday half holiday."  (The "Saturday half holiday" referred to the fact that garment  factory employees worked only half a day on Saturday.)  Among the locations that had been targeted was the French American Importing Company in the Everett Building.

Another tenant not associated with the apparel industry was the General Baking Company headquarters.  On October 21, 1921, the New-York Tribune called it "one of the largest baking companies in the world, having twenty-five factories throughout the United States.  Its general manager was Raoul H. Fleischmann of the yeast-making family.

The Cleanliness Institute was in the building in the mid-1920s.  It published the Cleanliness Journal, which announced "A campaign to educate the people of the United States in school and out of school to understand the advantages of physical cleanliness to health and morals," in November 1927.

After nearly three decades, William Skinner & Sons still operated from the Everett Building in 1935.

Political activities in Europe were reflected in the Everett Building's tenant list beginning in the mid 1930s.  Among the tenants in 1937 was the American League Against War and Fascism.  And by 1934 the Jewish National Workers' Alliance had its headquarters here.

In the second half of the 20th century, the garment businesses were essentially gone from the Everett Building.  Instead, relief and charitable organizations were the most visible tenants.  In 1964, the women's organization Hapoel Hamizrachi was there, described by The New York Times as "the social welfare branch of the National Religious party in Israel."  It would remain into the 1970s.  Also in the building in 1964 was the New York chapter of the Association for the Help of Retarded Children.

The Kibbutz Aliya Desk operated from the address in the 1970s.  On April 27, 1970, The New York Times explained the agency, which represented "over 200 kibbutzes throughout Israel," arranged summer jobs overseas for college students.

The 1970s also saw the offices of the New York Police Department's Civilian Complain Review Board in the building.  It would remain until 1987.  On January 1, 1973, The New York Times said, "Over the years, most complaints have alleged 'unnecessary force.'  Other complains charge abuse of authority, discourtesy and ethnic slurs."  

Throughout the next decades, other reform and charitable agencies called 200 Park Avenue South home.  Among them were the Tolstoy Foundation, the American Council of Voluntary Agencies, and HIAS, Inc.  By the mid 1980s, Interaction was here.  It focused on working for the relief of Ethiopian famine victims in 1985.

At the time, a Chase Bank branch occupied part of the ground floor.  It was the scene of a terrifying incident on November 13, 1981.  At 2:45 that afternoon two men passed a note to 40-year-old teller Gladys Walla demanding money.  The New York Times reported, "when she hesitated one of them opened fire, striking her in the chest and an arm."  The two men fled without any money, and Walla was taken to Cabrini Hospital in serious condition.

The Association for the Help of Retarded Children, now more sensitively called Resources for Children with Special Needs, was still in the Everett Building as late as 1993.  Three years later the New York City headquarters of the Skowhegan art school was here, as well.  On August 11, 1996 The New York Times noted it "keeps in close touch with the New York art scene with advisers like Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and with a length list of well-heeled patrons like Bill Cosby."

The Everett Building was designed an individual New York City landmark on September 6, 1988.  In its designation report, the Landmarks Preservation Commissioned deemed the structure "a uniquely American architectural expression."

photographs by the author
no permission to reuse the content of this blog has been granted to


  1. The first sentence states, "...on the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue..." but doesn't give a cross street. It's only much later in this piece that we learn that it's 17th Street. Wish you'd correct this, in this otherwise excellent post about a building worthy of our attention!