As GVSHP announced on its blog last Thursday, we will be hosting a fundraiser in November featuring our own Greenwich Village writer Calvin Trillin, and the 98-year-old appetizing store Russ & Daughters. The event is taking place at Astor Center, the food and wine educational center connected to Astor Wines & Spirits. We thought we would take this opportunity to highlight the DeVinne Press Building, the spectacular landmark building in which Astor Wines & Spirits and Astor Center is located.
Astor Wines & Spirits has been a Village Business since 1946, but it was not until 2006 that they officially moved to their current location in the DeVinne Press Building at the corner of Lafayette and East 4th Streets. Recognizing the need for their own building, they purchased while they were still renting on Astor Place. The DeVinne Press Building, constructed in 1885 for the printer Theodore Lowe DeVinne, was officially landmarked in 1966, just a year after the city’s landmarks law went into effect, making it one of New York City’s very first individual landmarks. Built by the firm Babb, Cook, and Willard, this commercial structure is most remarkable for its massive interior masonry archways, which held the weight of the printing presses of the DeVinne firm. The designation report cites the building’s aesthetic and structural innovations and its three-story, deeply recessed window arches.
The terra cotta ornament on the facade is also striking. In 2007, GVSHP featured a lecture with author Irene Tichenor, whose book No Art Without Craft: The Life of Theodore Low DeVinne, Printer, is an excellent biography of the printer whose name graces the building.
Led by president Andrew Fisher and the Fisher family, interior and exterior renovations wonderfully preserved the building’s historic features. The family even took one step further, installing two natural gas-powered Micro-Turbines in the basement, helping to make the DeVinne Press Building one of the greenest landmark’s in New York City.