This is the latest installment of Off the Grid’s series, “My Favorite Things,” in which we showcase some of our very favorite spots around the neighborhood, highlighting the incredible architecture, history, people, and businesses of the Village, East Village, and NoHo; read more HERE.
There is so much light and loveliness to be found in our neighborhoods during the Holiday season, but none quite so special as the Salmagundi Club at 47 Fifth Avenue, when the wreaths are hung and the tree is lit! It is always a special place to visit, but at Holiday time, it is extra special!
The stately building was initially constructed for Irad Hawley, the president of the Pennsylvania Coal Company. The coal company had yards along the Hudson River in the West Village which made the lower Fifth Avenue location ideal for Hawley. As stated in the designation report, the four-and-a-half story Italianate style building was constructed in 1852-1853. The building’s grand entrance, up a flight of broad steps, is framed in original stone ornament and flanked by French doors that open onto cast-iron balconies. And as the report indicates, the interior is stunning. The first floor of the building showcases Italianate-style carved marble chimneypieces, rosewood doors, and an arcaded Corinthian screen dividing the front and back parlors. The dining room features elements of the Gothic Revival style and is one of the few remaining interiors in New York to do so.
Beyond the architectural significance of 47 Fifth Avenue, the designation report cites the building’s cultural significance as a key reason for its designation. The Salmagundi Club, before moving into its longtime home here, was organized in 1871 for “the promotion of social intercourse among artists and the advancement of the art” and named for the “Salmagundi Papers,” a satirical magazine published by short-story writer Washington Irving in which he coined the term “Gotham.” The Club purchased the grand Fifth Avenue mansion in 1917, and has resided there ever since. The designation report credits the maintenance of the historic building to the club, which had been, and continues to be, a reliable and generous steward. Notable members of the Club include illustrators Edwin Abbey, N.C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle; Impressionist painters William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam; Arts and Crafts pioneer John LaFarge; designer Louis C. Tiffany; Hudson River School artist Thomas Moran; and architect Stanford White. Fun fact: from April 1, 1982 until 1999, Village Preservation’s offices were located in the building.
The Salmagundi Club, which we named a Village Awardee in 2008, is more than just a club; it is a vibrant part of the Village. The organization owns a collection of over 1,500 works of art, undertakes small restoration projects, and opens numerous events and classes to the public, some of which are co-sponsored by Village Preservation, including our upcoming Annual Holiday Celebration for our members at the $500 level and above (making a splendid return after a 2-year pause due to the pandemic) on Tuesday, December 20th from 6-8 PM! For registration information for the holiday event, please click here!