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FIFTH NATIONAL BANK
296-300 Third Avenue
(aka 162 East 23rd Street)
Architect: James E. Ware
1874

Fifth National Bank

The imposing five-story building on the southwest corner of Third Avenue and East 23rd Street is an extraordinary survivor. This is one of the few bank buildings still standing in New York built before 1890. In the 1850s, the Italian Renaissance palazzo became the form for New York City's banks. A significant number of these buildings were erected in the Wall Street area. In the 1860s and 1870s, the basic form was adapted for Second Empire and Neo-Grec bank buildings. Although all but one of the early Wall Street banks have been demolished (the former Hanover Bank, now India House, stands on Hanover Square), several neighborhood banks from this era survive in New York City and Brooklyn. Among these are the former Kings County Savings Bank in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (1868), and the former Metropolitan Savings Bank on Third Avenue and East 7th Street (1867), both Second Empire buildings with mansard roofs, and this Neo-Grec style building.

The 23rd Street bank is massed in the manner of an Italianate palazzo with a rhythmic arrangement of horizontal windows, each with a three-dimensional pedimented enframement, and the entire structure is capped by a projecting cornice. Neo-Grec detailing is evident in the use of acroteria on the pediments of the central bay on Third Avenue and on the pedimented cornice. Other Neo-Grec features are the incised detailing found n the panels beneath the third-story windows (this survives at only one window), on some of the pilasters, and on the window lintels at the top floor. James E. Ware was a very prolific late-19th-century architect who designed this bank relatively early in his career. The building was originally planned to have the banking hall and offices on the first floor with flats above. It is now a mixed-use commercial and residential structure.

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THIRD AVENUE:

Fifth National Bank
Scheffel Hall


EAST 17TH STREET:

141


EAST 16TH STREET:

134, 136, & 138


EAST 15TH STREET:

Swannanoa
135 & 137


IRVING PLACE:

Consolidated Edison Company


NYSCA To EXIT and return to Preserve & Protect

last revised 31 August 1998

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