Volume 78 / Number 17 - September 24 - 30, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower
East Side, Since 1933

Villager photo by Caroline Debevec

The former Public National Bank, at Seventh St. and Avenue C, is now an official city landmark.

A former bakery and a bank are two new East Village landmarks

By Albert Amateau

The Landmarks Preservation Com-mission last week designated as city landmarks two East Village buildings dating from the 1920s, the Wheatsworth Bakery, now a storage warehouse on E. 10th St., and the Public National Bank, now a residential building on Avenue C.

The unanimous designations on Tues., Sept. 16, were the fifth and sixth that the commission made this year for buildings located between E. Houston and E. 14th Sts. and the Bowery/Fourth Ave. and the East River. The commission staff recommended all six designations after having conducted a survey of 130 buildings in the area in 2006.

“Amid a neighborhood of tenements, these dignified modern buildings commanded a significant civic presence,” said Robert Tierney, L.P.C. chairperson. “The Wheatsworth factory and the Public National Bank helped a new wave of immigrants build better lives in New York City and get a toehold on the American dream.”

Wheatsworth, Inc., a cracker-and-flour manufacturer, completed the seven-story Wheatsworth Bakery at 444 E. 10th St. between Avenues C and D. in 1928. The company invented the Milk-Bone dog biscuit.

Designed by J. Edwin Hopkins, the son of a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, baker and specialist in industrial bakeries, the E. 10th St. building has a granite base, terra-cotta pilasters etched with wheat stalk bundles and terra-cotta friezes typical of the Art Deco style. Projecting vertical piers and abstract sculptural forms on the facade are in the Viennese Secessionist style.

The factory’s main product was the bone-shaped dog biscuit, but it also produced crackers (for human consumption) and flour. The National Biscuit Co. acquired Wheatsworth in 1931 and the bakery closed in 1957. Subsequent owners included the city and Columbia University, and the building is now a public storage warehouse.

The two-story Public National Bank of New York was completed in 1923 at 106 Avenue C at E. Seventh St. It was designed by Eugene Schoen, who was the architect for other Public National Bank branches, which totaled 30 in 1928 and had $135 million in deposits.

Schoen, a New York City native, studied in Vienna with Josef Hoffmann, a founder in the late 1890s of the Viennese Secessionist school, which broke away from the prevailing academic and historic style of art and architecture.

The Public National Bank, later known as the Tompkins Square Bank, closed the Avenue C branch in 1954 and merged the following year with Bankers Trust.

Originally two stories, an intermediate floor was added between the first and second floors when the building was converted in 1954 to a nursing home. In the 1980s the Avenue C building was converted to apartments.

The other four landmark designations in the East Village this year were Webster Hall, 119-125 E. 11th St., designed by Charles Rentz and completed in 1886; the 11th St. Public Bath, 538 E. 11th St., completed in 1906 on a design by Arnold Brunner and since 1995 serving as a corporate and fashion photo studio; Hamedrash Hagadol Anshe Ungarn, 242 E. Seventh St., a synagogue completed in 1908 and converted to residential use in 1985; and the Elizabeth Home for Girls, 307 E. 12th St., completed in 1891 by The Children’s Aid Society as a shelter for young women, and converted to apartments after 1984.

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