“Bank Row” buildings represent two eras of 20th-century economic expansion. Landmarks voted to designate two bank buildings in Brooklyn as individual City landmarks at its meeting on January 24, 2017. The elder of the two landmarks, the People’s Trust Company Building, stands at 181 Montague Street, and the second item, the National Title Guaranty Building, adjoins it at 185 Montague Street. The buildings are the only unprotected historic structures on what is known as “Bank Row,” as the north side of the street falls within the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District.
The People’s Trust Company Building, designed by the firm Mowbray & Uffinger, dates to 1904. Classical Revival in style, the building is fronted by four massive Ionic columns, each carved from a single block of marble, reported to be the largest ever quarried at the time the bank was built. Above the columns is an intricately carved pediment. An original frieze has been lost or covered. The People’s Trust building was one of the first banks to be constructed in the development of Bank Row. The building is now occupies by a Citibank.
The National Title Guaranty Company Building was designed by an early firm specializing in skyscrapers, Corbett, Harrison and MacMurray, with an Art Deco limestone screen at the lower levels designed by Rene Chambellan. The building rises to 16 stories, with setbacks flanking the central bay above the 13th floor. Projecting piers emphasize the tower’s verticality, rising from stepped buttresses at the base. Chambellan also designed the decorative elements of other individual landmarks, including the Daily New Building and Rockefeller Center.
Landmarks’ Research Department said that together the banks were an “important ensemble of early 20th century commercial buildings.”
At a November 29th, 2016, hearing, designation of both buildings was supported by Council Member Stephen Levin, local and citywide preservationist organizations, and area residents. The owners of National Title Guaranty Building, the Montague-Goldman Corporation, opposed designation, saying landmarking would prevent redevelopment, and hamper bringing the building into code compliance.
Both structures were designated unanimously. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said the designation would ensure the protection of significant architecture in the history of Brooklyn’s financial industry.
LPC: People’s Trust Company Building, 181 Montague Street, Brooklyn (LP-2586); National Title Guaranty Company Building, 185 Montague Street, Brooklyn (LP-2587) (Jan. 24, 2017).