I'm thrilled to announce that, after a little vacation, the pictures are back, and this time, they're here to stay (plus a bunch of new ones to boot!). Be sure to join the Facebook fanpage here to keep up to date on the latest 5 Beekman news! And for any serious shooting inquiries, send me an email.
You've probably passed it a million times in your travels through downtown Manhattan. Certainly anyone who has ever visited J&R Row or hit the Starbucks on the opposite corner for a post-Brooklyn-Bridge-walk bathroom break has noticed its twin towers, and perhaps wondered how much its wealthy tenants pay to live behind its beautiful brick and terra-cotta facade.
Except, 5 Beekman Street doesn't have any tenants. In fact, it's completely empty, essentially abandoned, and has been for a decade, with a portion of its interior shuttered since 1940...
...enclosed by a beautiful, fully-restored iron and glass skylight.
Each floor is lined with beautifully detailed cast iron railings:
Once known as Temple Court, 5 Beekman Street was built in 1882 and today is the earliest surviving "fireproof" office building of the pre-skyscraper period. It is also the third building in the city to have had an elevator installed.
For the first twenty years, 5 Beekman Street was home to several major law offices. After, its space was rented out to a variety of tenants. During initial renovations, for example, this sign was uncovered beneath a layer of paint revealing one former tenant: "Hospital Credit Exchange, Inc. One Flight Up."
In 1940, the atrium was boarded up due to firecode violations, as seen in the below picture published in the NY Times. Completely hidden, later tenants would never know of its existence, seeing only a walled corridor (though a secret door offered an amazing discovery to those who stumbled upon it).
The atrium is now fully up to code and is ready to be restored:
Still, my strong hope is that 5 Beekman will one day find new life as a hotel, a perfect use for the space and a great reason to restore it to its former grandeur. Not only would the public be able to enjoy its beautiful interior, there would be an undeniable reason to maintain what has survived, making it quite possibly the most unique hotel in all of New York City.
...head down a set of stairs...
If the hotel plan goes through, this might one day become a bar/night club, which would be a really, really awesome use for the space, especially with the beams/brickwork left somewhat exposed:
The basement is huge, taking up the full footprint of the building. In fact, according to recently unearthed information, it once housed the largest vault in the world.
An interesting arched doorway:
More of the basement:
As I was heading out, I noticed this small oven in one wall - I'd love to know what purpose it once served:
Some time ago, I mourned the loss of Theatre Alley, which is gone for good following the destruction of a building at the southern end. If 5 Beekman does become a hotel, this might get a complete overhaul, with an outdoor cafe and antique street lamps.
There are big plans in the works for 5 Beekman Street, and I'm optimistic that it will one day be restored to its former prestige. Sure, I probably won't be able to afford to stay here, but one of the reasons I much prefer a hotel conversion, as opposed to offices or condos, is that at very least, everyone in New York can walk in the lobby and admire its beauty.
More articles: www.scoutingny.com.
More articles: www.scoutingny.com.