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Guide to the New-York Historical Society Original Building Planning & Construction Records
1848-1946
 NYHS-RG 3

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 19, 2019
Finding aid is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series I. 2nd Avenue Building, 1848-1860, 1906-1912. 1.23 Linear feet in 2 document boxes and 3 oversize folders

Scope and Contents Note

The 2nd Avenue Building series includes documents concerning N-YHS's initiative in the mid-nineteenth century to construct a fireproof building to house and to present its collections. The series includes the minute books for three of the committees involved with the project: the committee to raise funds for the project, the trustees of the Building Fund, and the Building Committee charged by the trustees with responsibility for land acquisition and building design and construction. The series includes the printed specifications for the project, estimates received from contractors for the various aspects of the construction, contracts with some of the contractors, and summaries of the project revenue and expenses. There are several subscription books from both the original drive for funds in the late 1840s-early 1850s, and the drive for additional funds in 1856.

The correspondence includes several letters from the project's architects, Mettam & Burke, as well as from the various craftsmen bidding for work or responding to changes in the project's original specifications. The correspondence also includes a few offers to N-YHS for real estate in 1850-1851, and documents concerning N-YHS's eventual sale of the building in the early twentieth century.

The series holds about 25 architectural drawings, including floor plans, elevations, transverse views, longitudinal views, and others. Some of these are dated as from 1854 and are stamped or signed as the work product of architects (George B.) Carstesen & (C.H.) Gildemeister; these are likely the proposals that were ultimately not accepted by N-YHS. The other drawings in the series are undated and unsigned.

Arrangement Note

The series is arranged by format, beginning with minute books and other documents related to the overall activities of the building committees. These are followed by other formats, such as subscription books, that relate to particular aspects of the project. These formats proceed in a rough chronological order.

Processing Information Note

The architectural drawings in this series were formerly included with other architectural plans in Series X of a different record group, the New-York Historical Society pictorial archive (NYHS-RG 5). In May 2015, all of the plans from the 1940s and earlier from NYHS-RG 5 were transferred into this record group, NYHS-RG 3. Plans related to the 2nd Avenue building were placed in this series.

Access Restrictions

An appointment is required for access to the architectural drawings in this series. Please contact the Print Room at printroom@nyhistory.org.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Minutes. Building Committee and Committee on Subscriptions to the Building Fund

Scope and Contents Note

The book includes the minutes for Building Committee meetings from February 22, 1848, to December 9, 1851, and the minutes for the Committee on Subscriptions to the Building Fund meetings from January 26, 1852, to its final meeting on February 2, 1857, with its final report of February 3, 1857, written by Chairman Luther Bradish. Loose sheets found in the book were separated to the following folder.

1848-1857
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Loose Documents Removed from Minutes

Scope and Contents Note

Includes two sheets, including a list of individuals associated with an unnamed committee.

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Minutes. Committee, or Trustees, of the Building Fund.

Scope and Contents Note

The minutes book includes a copy of the appeal of October 30, 1848, for funds for a fireproof building, with the trustees' meeting minutes from January 29, 1850, to June 2, 1855. Loose sheets found in the book were separated to the following folder.

1848-1855
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Loose Documents Removed from Minutes

Scope and Contents Note

Includes lists of trustees, trustee donations, a copy of the 1856 appeal for building donations, draft minutes of the January 31, 1855, meeting, and some Building Fund financial records (1855-57).

1855-1857
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Minutes. Building Committee

Scope and Contents Note

The minutes book includes an opening note recounting the authorization of the committee from its creation on January 29, 1850, to the beginning of its minutes in this book on December 9, 1853. The note states that proceedings for pre-1853 meetings are recorded in the reports of the committee found in the minutes book of the Trustees of the Building Fund (see above). The minutes end on May 9, 1857, though later dated loose sheets found in the book were separated to the following folder.

1850, 1853-1857
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Loose Documents Removed from Minutes

Scope and Contents Note

Includes notes from committee meetings held in May and June 1857, and a letter from Andrew Warner to B.R. Winthrop of September 29, 1857, commenting on the construction and financial matters.

1857
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Committee Reports, Drafts, Notes (1 of 4)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes two reports from 1850 regarding the effort to raise subscriptions for the proposed building and one report from 1850 regarding N-YHS and the New York Society Library's consideration of jointly purchasing and occupying a site, with the results of their review of available properties. Includes notes and correspondence (1853-1854) concerning meetings of the Buildings Committee and negotiations with neighboring Tabernacle Baptist Church for acquisition of a strip of land. Includes miscellaneous subscription materials (circa 1854).

1850-1854, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Committee Reports, Drafts, Notes (2 of 4)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes notes or draft minutes of building trustee meetings, with financial data and reports from the trustees' Buildings Committee.

1855-1858, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Committee Reports, Drafts, Notes (3 of 4)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes draft reports of the Buildings Committee and the Subscription Committee; Luther Bradish's remarks at the dedication of the building; an admission ticket to the dedication; financial and other notes, at least some of which were supplied to Bradish by Librarian George Moore; and an agreement for mason work on 4th Avenue to which N-YHS was not a party (this is possibly a form of agreement referenced by Bradish).

1853, 1860, undated
Drawer: 12A-B1 Folder : 4 Committee Reports, Drafts, Notes (4 of 4)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes one oversize pencil drawing on tracing paper of a building. The drawing is undated and unattributed and was found with the Building Committee reports. It does not appear to be the N-YHS building as built.

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Subscription Books (4)
circa 1848
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Subscription Book (1)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes one booklet and loose sheets (correspondence and a subscriber list) from the booklet.

1850-1851
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Subscription Books (2)

Scope and Contents Note

Appears to be two summary lists of subscribers from 1848-1854.

1856-1857
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Subscription Books (5) (1 of 2)

Scope and Contents Note

This folder and the next include booklets recording subscriptions for the 1856 appeal to complete the building, especially the galleries for art.

1856-1857
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Subscription Books (1) (2 of 2)
1856-1857
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Building Fund Lecture Admission Ticket
1852-1853
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Offers of Property

Scope and Contents Note

Offers from Francis B. Cutting (Lafayette Place), Samuel B. Ruggles (4th Ave between 17th and 18th), and Edward Ludlow (5th Ave between 17th and 18th).

1850-1851, undated
Drawer: 12A-B1 Folder : 2 Architectural Drawings (1 of 2)

Scope and Contents Note

This folder and the next include presentation drawings for the 2nd Avenue building, including floor plans, elevations, interior and exterior views, and longitudinal and transverse views. Several of the drawings are signed or stamped as created by Carstensen & Gildemeister. An appointment is required for access to these architectural drawings. Please contact the Print Room at printroom@nyhistory.org.

1854, undated
Drawer: 12A-B1 Folder : 3 Architectural Drawings (2 of 2)
1854, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Specifications

Scope and Contents Note

Includes the printed specifications from architects Mettam & Burke for: carpenter's work, iron work, marble work, mason's work, and stone work. The folder also includes the mason and carpenter specifications for the New York Society Library to be built in University Place.

1855
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Correspondence (1 of 3)

Scope and Contents Note

This folder and the next two include correspondence with estimates from contractors, a progress report (December 1856) and other correspondence from architects Mettam & Burke, and other documents related to work on the building.

1854-1857
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Correspondence (2 of 3)
1855-1857
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Correspondence (3 of 3)
1855-1857
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Contracts (1 of 2)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes contracts with J.B. and W.W. Cornell (iron work) and Masterton, Smith, and Sinclair (stonecutting).

1855-1856
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Contracts (2 of 2)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes contracts with Benjamin F. Camp (mason work and coal vault) and draft contract with John Galier (carpenter).

1855-1856
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Financial (1 of 2)

Scope and Contents Note

This folder and the next hold records related to the costs of the building project. This first folder holds records concerning the history of payments over the course of the project and notes on contracted payments, extras, and other financial matters. The next folder holds some bills and some miscellaneous notes about subscriptions.

1857
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Financial (2 of 2)
1856-1858
Drawer: 12A-B1 Folder : 23 Designs for Lamps

Scope and Contents Note

Includes six undated and unattributed designs for what appear to be table top reading lamps. It is believed that these designs relate to N-YHS's 2nd Avenue building, though there is no clear basis for that. A notation with the drawings indicates that they were a gift of Phyllis Lucas of the Old Print Gallery in 1976.

Undated
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Offers for 2nd Avenue Building
1906-1907
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Sale of 2nd Avenue Building
1911-1912

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