12 July 2011

Coogan Building Remnants Found in City's Salvage Warehouse

City preservationists remember the Coogan Building.

The structure, which once stood at the corner of 26th Street and Sixth Avenue, was an early victim in City Hall's long campaign to rid the Landmarks Preservation Commission of its teeth. The Coogan was built in 1876 for use by the Racquet Court Club, predecessor to the modern Racquet and Tennis Club on Park Avenue. Architecture historians called it a predecessor of the modern skyscraper. It had been granted landmark status in 1989, the Commission calling it ''an excellent and early example of arcaded, tripartite facade design, of the type later expounded by Louis Sullivan.'' But then, later that year, Mayor David N. Dinkins and the New York City Board of Estimate rescinded that designation. It was torn down a decade later and replaced by a 39-story luxury apartment building.

Why do I bring up the Coogan. Because a couple days ago, I posted an item lamenting the fact that the City was auctioning off—to one single high bidder—all the contents of Williamsburg's Architectural Salvage Warehouse, which, from 1980 to 2000, "accepted the remains of demolished structures."

A reader managed to get inside the warehouse and take a group of photos. Among the shots was the above picture—showing pieces of the Coogan Building. "March 2000—Item #90."

Here's how the Coogan looked in life. It's the impressive building in back.


Ken Mac said...

and so it goes...just returned from Copenhagen, where history in architecture flourishes. How did they pull that off? Oh, and no banks and druggists on every corner. I had to search for an ATM. Honor system on the subway, no turnstiles. Everyone rides bikes, most are unlocked on the street. We're fucked.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for reminding me of the Coogan in that old color photograph. In the mid-1980s while seeking an apartment, I auditioned for "roommate" status with an older, rent-controlled tenant in the Coogan. That's where I first learned how "roommate" was a euphemism for "subtenant" and for charging as much as possible.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the beautiful picture of 55 W. 26th St. known to you as the Coogan building. I grew up there during the 70's in a 3500 square foot third floor loft with windows on three sides. It was beautiful space despite being much abused during it's period as a factory. The owner Leonard Adell did little to repair the damage and raised the rents substantially as loft living became an attractive whim to people who really did not need 3500 square feet to pursue their vocations.
Our loft still had some oak paneling and marble sinks and the building had a beautiful feligree wrought iron passenger elevator that was operated with some sort of manual crank.
My mother, a sculptor, has happy memories of making work there in the quiet of NYC nights of the seventies. You could walk several blocks on the weekends without seeing another soul.
I'd love to what exactly were those remnants from the building.

Donny Kerabatsos said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I was feeling nostalgic today and did a search on 55 W. 26th Street. I lived in the 5th floor loft of the Coogan Building from Nov '88 - Mar '89. It was an amazing space and spoiled me for NYC apartments for years to come. Many years later, a friend of my wife's moved into the high rise they built on that site - it was a wholly depressing experience to go in the new building. Soulless and unoriginal.

Unknown said...

I lived on the 4th floor of the Coogan building as a kid from '75 to '77. I totally remember the creaky Elevator too! Our loft was so big i used to ride my skateboard across it to get to the bathroom. Sorry to the 3rd floor poster...My favorite memory was wandering through the flea market across the street on Saturdays.

LamartineChelsea said...

Having been quite involved in the battle to save the Coogan Building in 99/2000 I find this all bitter sweet. I suppose its good to know that some pieces still remain ..but at the same time it is a reminder of the terrible loss and the rather cynical real estate game played by the City.First the de-landmarking as political pay off and then the City refusing to right their wrong, even at the 11th hour. There was no "hardship" and there never was at any phase of the struggle. The whole thing was disgraceful.
Laurence Frommer