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.
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.