1908 Merchants Building | NYC History | Noho


Lions and Owls in Architecture, Oh My!

1908 Merchant's Building Real Estate Record Builder's Guide

About 1908 Merchants Building | NYC History | Noho

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • On the corner of Broadway and West 4th Street, about equidistant between Houston Street and the NYU Bookstore stands the Merchants Building.
  • This building dates to 1908, sports some excellent gargoyles, and stands as a striking reminder of the area’s industrial past.
  • This is a loft building designed by William C. Frohne, the German architect who also designed the “German American Shooting Society” on St. Marks and the “Bohemian National Hall” up on 73rd Street.
  • They spared no expense; this building cost a million dollars in 1908!
    Witness the refinement; find the owls on the fourth floor and the lions near the roof.
  • So, who were the Merchants in the Merchants Building? At the time, SoHo and NoHo were significant manufacturing hubs devoted to the garment industry. Furriers, milliners, feather purveyors, and apparel makers called the building home until 1967, when it was sold to NYU.
  • Interestingly, NYU also owns the Asch Building, better known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory building.
  • NYU sold the Merchant’s building in the late 1970s, and by 1980, it became a co-op apartment building, which remains to this day.

Carpe City Trivia

If you look carefully, you'll find wise old owls on many buildings throughout the city. Some favorites:

  • Owls stand guard over the doors of Brooklyn Tech (one of NYC's most renowned High Schools)
  • Visit Columbia's Law Library and find the Owl hidden in the Alma Mater sculpture
  • Find the Owls at Herald Square
  • In Central Park, locate the owls carved into the Bethesda Terrace plaza

By: Lucie Levine
Photography by:

Closeup Historical Image: Architects' and Builders' Magazine, January 1909

Sketch Historical Image: Real Estate Record & Builders' Guide, August 1, 1908

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