Tuesday, May 8, 2007

LPC considers Jamaica landmark

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is holding a public hearing on the proposed designation of the Jamaica Savings Bank, located at 161-02 Jamaica Avenue in Queens, on Tuesday, May 15, 2007. The hearing will take place at the Commission’s offices located at 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North, starting at 9:30 a.m. Any information you can provide about the building's significance and condition is relevant to our consideration. Attached please find historic information and a picture of the building.

Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.

Diane Jackier
Director of External Affairs
Landmarks Preservation Commission
Phone: (212) 669-7923
Fax: (212) 669-7797

The former Jamaica Savings Bank, a building which is significant for its architectural merit, was constructed in 1897-98 for the oldest and most prestigious banking institution in Jamaica. Designed by the noted firm of Hough & Deuell, the building is a fine and particularly exuberant example of the classically-inspired Beaux-Arts style which became popular in the United States following the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and is one of only a few buildings in the borough of Queens to embrace that architectural aesthetic. The striking façade of the building displays especially rich and fluid ornamental forms reminiscent of French Baroque architecture, skillfully executed in carved limestone and wrought iron. Notable among the façade’s decorative motifs is a carved stone beehive, a traditional symbol in the imagery of bank architecture, denoting industry, thrift, and prosperity. Prominently sited on Jamaica Avenue, the bank building is an urbane presence on the neighborhood’s main commercial thoroughfare. Although the four-story structure is relatively small in scale, the imposing design of the façade conveys a monumentality which is appropriately suited to the distinguished image and reputation of the banking institution, while lending the building the formal elegance of a private club or townhouse.

Incorporated in 1866 by a consortium of local citizens—including John A. King, former Governor of the State of New York and the eldest son of Federalist statesman Rufus King—the Jamaica Savings Bank played an important role in the development of Jamaica, at that time a burgeoning commercial center. The success of the organization was marked by its exponential growth in the late nineteenth century and its need for more commodious—and more conspicuous—quarters. The construction of the bank coincided with the 1898 incorporation of Queens County into the municipal jurisdiction of the City of New York and reflects the metropolitan spirit of the period. The façade of the building maintains its original Beaux-Arts design and survives today essentially intact as a reminder of an important era in Jamaica’s

The Landmarks Preservation Commission held several public hearings on the Jamaica Savings Bank in 1974 and designated it a New York City landmark on November 12, 1974. The Board of Estimate overturned the designation. In 1990, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held additional hearings on the Jamaica Savings Bank, and designated it a New York City landmark on May 5, 1992. The New York City Council overturned the designation.


JK said...

Now THAT is a gorgeous building. It's a shame it's been treated so shabbily.

Anonymous said...

The slum-lording Stark family (that owned it) was mostly responsible for its current condition.

It was designated a landmark by the LPC (under former chair Laurie Beckleman) years back but it was rejected by the City Council.

The Stark family had supported many of its members with hefty campaign contributions.

Note: Ms. Beckleman told me that Julia Harrison voted against that designation. Sorry Julia!

Anonymous said...

Now if this building were in Manhattan....it would have already been a shoe-in for designation!

It's one of the best examples of the Beaux Arts style to be found anywhere in our city!

Anonymous said...

Why should it be important that Julia Harrison voted against the designation for a building that wasn't in her district? If in fact she did. Why single her out? She's no longer in office. Rita Stark never contributed to her campaigns. It's ancient history.

Preservationists should be more focused and concerned about the future of this spectacular building and find ways to preserve it.

Anonymous said...

Please do not mix people up. This is not the Jamaica Savings Bank on Queens Boulevard.

This is the Jamaica Savings Bank located in Jamaica on Jamaica Avenue at 161 Street.

Anonymous said...

Because.....Julia ......Laurie Beckleman herself, told me at a Poppenhusen Institute 125th Anniversary affair that we both attended years back......that C.M. Harrison voted against this building's designation. Just a point of history (though "ancient") is always important to clarify!

Anonymous said...

P.S......never did I say that C.M. Harrison, took money from Stark. She did from Tommy Huang though!

Anonymous said...

I think our readers know the difference between the 2 different Jamaica Savings Bank buildings.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Harrison is history. She has nothing to do with the preservation of this building. Whether or not she took a campaign contribution from Tommy Huang, Rita Stark, Pope John XXIII or anyone else is not important to the preservation of this building. Neither is Laurie Beckleman (nice girl, but she's history too), Poppenhusen (only because it's already a landmark) or the members of the City Council (they're all gone) who voted against it in 1992.

What's important here is the future of this building and not what happened 15+ years ago.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the LPC does the right thing. By granting it a hearing, they have expressed interest in its preservation, but let's hope the City Council approves the designation in turn. We don't want another Julia Harrison!!! :-( This is one of the most elegant sites in Jamaica, & the finest Beaux Art building in Queens.

Anonymous said...

Sorry..... Julia.... or friend of Julia.....ancient history IS important and IS relevant and NOT to be forgotten if there is STILL a lesson to be learned!

The past is prologue!

If C.M. Harrison (for one) had originally voted FOR instead of AGAINST the designation of the old Jamaica Savings Bank on JAMAICA AVE. (we're not confused as to it's location) maybe the turn out might have been different!

She didn't want to buck the powerful Archie Spignor (who did take money from Rita Stark and it was his district)!

The amount that Harrison took from Tommy Huang, for the record, was approximately $1,000 to $1,500.....nothing really important.
She was an unknowing fledgling and Huang gave, indiscriminately, to everyone in the 1980s in an effort to hedge his political bets

And please don't bother to insult our intelligence......we are aware that Laurie Beckleman isn't a saint but probably the best chair that LPC ever had.

Now that the air has been cleared, we can go on with the current process of saving that worthy building.

But we WILL take note of WHICH City Council members vote AGAINST affirming its designation , should it get that far!

History should not, after all, repeat itself!

Anonymous said...

For someone who claims to know an awful lot about Harrison, there’s whole helluva lot you don’t know. Or maybe you selectively forgot.

Julia lost all respect for Spigner, when he persistently asked her to “lay off” Tommy Huang with the RKO Keith’s issue. That was at least two years before the Council voted on the Jamaica Savings Bank designation. She bucked Spigner and anyone else who tried to bully her. Spigner did not, and could not, do anything to influence her voting on this or any other issue. You should get your facts straight before you post. Facts stated without merit are, at the very least, only rumors.

Julia didn’t cast the deciding vote against the designation. And I did not insinuate anything about Laurie’s tenure as chair, other than the fact that she is no longer chair.

You know what? To hell with it! Bitch and moan all you want. You're very good at it. I’m not going to waste any more of my time with this. If you in fact do know her and if you have a beef about Julia, call her and clear the air. Maybe she’ll take your call. Maybe she won’t.

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact: This is not Julia Harrison. She's been ill and is in NYHQ.

Anonymous said...

Hello Holly Civic Ass'n. member! Pardon me!

Thanks for the history lesson (I have a "PHD" in that subject)....10/4....over & out!

Anonymous said...

"Julia didn't cast the deciding vote against the designation"..........

We are taught early in our lives as citizens of the United States of America...... that EVERY VOTE
is potentially a

This is the cornerstone of our Democracy!

One vote influencing the outcome is particularly more relevant within the City Council chambers where the percentage of the voting body is much smaller than our national population!

Anonymous said...

My great-grandfather Edgar Deuell, Jr. designed this lovely building - I've been disappointed twice that it's landmarking hasn't been successful. It's a gem.