Architectural Connections: An Iconic Building on the Most Famous Street in the World; 55 Wall Street

McKim, Mead, and White was a prominent American architectural firm at the turn of the 20th century.  A partnership formed in 1878 by Charles Follen McKim, William Rutherford Mead, and Stanford White, the illustrious firm came to define the look of Gilded Age America.  The most successful and influential American architectural firm of its time, McKim, Mead, and White designed New York’s original Penn Station, built private residences for robber barons and industrial tycoons, and carried out a renovation of the the White House at President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation in 1903.  The famous New York architectural firm’s buildings include the Brooklyn Museum, the main campus of Columbia University, and the Garden City campus of Adelphi University.  The firm’s founders employed Beaux-Arts classical principles that became emblematic for the American Renaissance, an era associated with unrivalled growth, technological advancement, prosperity and cultural change.  McKim, Mead, and White too showcased their talent at Woodlawn Cemetery.  We have 13 works by America’s most prestigious architectural firm, including the Borden Memorial (1904), and the Arata (1910) and Julius Stein (1926) mausoleums.

Between 1907 and 1910, McKim, Mead, and White was hired to enlarge 55 Wall Street, which was originally built in 1842 by American architect Isaiah Rogers.  The 1900s renovation of the Lower Manhattan building placed a colonnade of Corinthian columns made of granite from Spruce Head, Maine and Rockport, Massachusetts above the original facade.  Additionally, some of the granite used in the columns was taken from the lower section of the Financial District building.  The arrangement of Corinthian columns, the most ornate, slender and sleek of the three Greek orders-the other two canonical orders being Doric and Ionic-was in keeping with a principle of classical architecture.  55 Wall Street eventually became a splendid CitiBank branch with a domed, coffered ceiling with recessed panels, arched windows, and elaborate Corinthian columns.  55 Wall Street is a superb example of the exquisite skill and craftsmanship with which architects were able to add to older buildings.