Architect George Frederick Pelham and the Greenwich Village Historic District
One of New York City’s most prolific architects before and after the turn of the 20th century was George Frederick Pelham. He designed a variety of types of buildings, including institutional, commercial and especially residential buildings all around the city, employing numerous architectural styles. Many of his buildings are located in various New York City historic districts, including the Greenwich Village Historic District, which boasts 22 of his buildings within its borders. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District this year, we’re looking at some of the buildings by Pelham.
Pelham was born in 1867 in Ottawa, Ontario and came to New York as a child. His father, George Brown Pelham, also an architect, opened a firm in New York City in 1875 and he served as an architect with the City’s Parks Department. George F. was privately tutored in architecture and initially worked as a draftsman for his father. New York City Directories show that he had his own practice by 1890 and would go onto practice for 43 years. In 1910, his son, George F. Pelham Jr. would join his father’s firm, continuing the family tradition.
The Alpha apartments at 12-14 Charles Street
This six-story apartment house was designed in 1903 in the Renaissance Revival style and features rusticated stone on the first floor. Buff brick clad the upper floors and this structure is topped by a large bracketed cornice. Scrolled keystones adorn the windows and the raised entry features a classical porch with stately columns. The 1910 federal census shows that fifteen families or couples made this their home at that time, and some of their professions included clerk, chauffeur, bookkeeper, painter, and engineer.
41 Perry Street
This old Law tenement was built in 1898 on a standard New York City 25 foot wide lot. This was just before the 1901 Tenement House Act which would make the construction of multifamily residences very difficult on such a lot. No. 41 is dumbell shaped in its plan (typical of old law tenements) and features Romanesque Revival ornament including the arched windows on the fifth floor. Both its cornice at the storefront on the first floor and its cornice at the roof are intact. Originally as it does today, it housed stores on the first floor and as seen in the 1900 Federal census, twenty families, couples or singles made the upper floors their home.
102 Perry Street/97 Charles Street
In 1895, this brick and granite, three-story stable was constructed as a through block building with street fronts on both Perry and Charles Streets. Austere in its ornament, it housed the A.J. Dunlap & Son company, an express delivery company which had multiple locations around the city according to the New York City directory of 1897.
73-77 Greenwich Avenue
George F. Pelham is credited in the Greenwich Village Historic District designation report with this apartment building which was built in 1924. It is located at the corner of Greenwich Avenue and West 11th Street and is chamfered at the corner where those two streets intersect. The brick is patterned with alternating courses of headers and stretchers (header is the short side and stretchers is the long side) and there are small corbelled arches lie the parapet. The ornament is very restrained at this apartment building, compared to Pelham’s other residences built prior to World War I.