FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
LPC VOTES TO LANDMARK THE SALVATION ARMY NATIONAL AND TERRITORIAL HEADQUARTERS
A focal point of The Salvation Army’s activities in the United States, the headquarters on 14th street was constructed in 1929-35 to serve the American operations of the organization, an international religious and charitable organization started in England in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth. The Art Deco headquarters building was opened and dedicated in May 1930 as the centerpiece of the Army’s Golden Jubilee National Congress, in celebration of 50 years of mission work in the United States and the Army’s contributions to American society. These buildings have been used by The Salvation Army for more than 80 years and continue to serve the needs of this important organization.
“I am very proud that the Commission voted to designate the original National and Territorial Headquarters of The Salvation Army, an organization that serves in 127 countries around the world and annually assists approximately 25 million people in this country alone,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “This is an important designation, which recognizes the architectural significance of this Art Deco style complex and the cultural significance of the organization in New York and the nation. It represents the confluence of architecture and purpose in a location that has been in continuous use by The Salvation Army for over 120 years and where it will continue to serve its important mission in New York City.”
The Salvation Army began outreach in New York in 1880, expanding rapidly here and in other U.S. cities. In 1895, it erected an auditorium and office building on part of this site, but by the 1920s a larger headquarters to serve a wider variety of purposes was required. The choice of the preeminent architect Ralph Walker reflected the desire of the group for signature structure, and Walker created a simple but striking Art Deco brick and cast-stone complex of three buildings specifically meeting the needs of this organization. The office building and auditorium are the subject of today’s designation; the third building, a 17 story dormitory built originally for working women, is already part of the Greenwich Village Historic District and is not part of this individual designation.
Facing 14th Street, the modern, eleven-story office structure is surmounted by a tower at the northeastern corner, and adjacent to a smaller building with a distinctive, arched entranceway, provide a large public gathering space and lead to the group’s auditorium. These buildings connect in the rear to a 17-story dormitory, built originally for working women.
“Lower Manhattan maintains a number of important structures that contribute to the historical, cultural, and architectural history of New York City, and the Salvation Army Headquarters Building and Theater is an important part of this history. This building is a beautifully maintained and functional theater that should receive landmark designation and be kept in the historical record for its acclaimed Art Deco style. I strongly support this landmark designation for our community,” said Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick.
“I thank the LPC for acknowledging this historically and architecturally significant building which, for many years, has served as a community service asset and as a prominent piece of neighborhood architecture. This action will ensure that this 1920s deco masterpiece will survive for future generations to appreciate and enjoy,” remarked Council Member Corey Johnson.
The Salvation Army served a critical role in helping New Yorkers throughout the Great Depression, establishing free employment bureaus for men and women, opening free food stations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and providing food and shelter for unemployed men and families. When the Federal government began its Public Works Administration programs, The Salvation Army supplemented its efforts, serving sandwiches, coffee, and donuts to applicants standing in line, sometimes all night, for these jobs. In 1935 it provided 726,237 free meals and nearly 1,000,000 free beds at its men’s shelters.
During post-war years the Army’s programs were updated to reflect changing needs and ideas – industrial homes were replaced by adult rehabilitation centers, and rescue homes for unwed mothers gave way to maternity and general hospitals, day-care centers and residences for young women. In January 1982 the national headquarters relocated to Verona, New Jersey, with the Eastern Territorial headquarters following suit to Nyack, New York in the late 1990s.
Today, the office building portion of the complex continues to house the offices of the Greater New York Division of The Salvation Army as well as a social services center that offers alcohol and drug treatment, casework services, detoxification services, and transitional housing, while the four-story auditorium building is still used for worship services, meetings, and concerts.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 36,000 buildings and sites, including 1,398 individual landmarks, 120 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, and 141 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. Under the City’s landmarks law, considered among the most powerful in the nation, the Commission must be comprised of at least three architects, a historian, a realtor, a planner or landscape architect, as well as a representative of each borough.