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Proposed Designation of 220 West 57th Street, formerly the American Society of Civil Engineers Clubhouse, now Lee's Art Shop, as an individual Landmark

WHEREAS, 220 West 57th Street, formerly the American Society of Civil Engineers ("ASCE") Clubhouse, now Lee's Art Shop, was built in 1897 to the designs (in the Francois I style) of the noted architect Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz who received many important commissions at the turn of the 20th Century, including the building that houses the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 42 West 44th Street, and the remaining shell of the former New York Bank for Savings at 280 Park Avenue South at the SW corner of East 22nd Street, now part of the Gramercy Place apartment building; and 

WHEREAS, The ASCE building was enlarged in 1905 when the ASCE again commissioned Eidlitz to design a contiguous two-bay western addition to accommodate their growing membership; and

WHEREAS, ASCE was founded in New York City in 1852 and its move from a series of small buildings to this elegant four-story brick and limestone clad building was widely anticipated across the country, according to a contemporary account in the New York Times; and

WHEREAS, The building provided many amenities to the ASCE membership including a lounge, offices, a 400 seat auditorium, a library on the second floor intended for use by civil engineering students, until 1916 when ASCE moved to the Engineering Societies Building, 33 East 39th Street, after which several companies shared the building; Schrafft's, a once popular restaurant chain, occupied the ground floor from 1928 to 1974; since that time Lee's Art Shop has occupied the ground floor and expanded recently to the upper floors and uncovered an ornamental ceiling during renovations; and

WHEREAS, The design of the building has been praised as "balanced, dignified and harmonious" especially as it relates to the 1892 Henry J. Hardenburgh-designed, Landmarked American Fine Arts Society Building, now the Art Students League, across West 57th Street; and

WHEREAS, These two buildings are the only two low-scale buildings remaining on West 57th Street between Seventh Avenue and Broadway; West 57th Street has lost many of its low-scale buildings which have been demolished in recent years to provide sites for high-rise developments; and

WHEREAS, Other than alterations at the ground floor, the ASCE Clubhouse is a remarkably well-preserved building with a rich historical, architectural and cultural heritage, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the designation of the American Society of Civil Engineers Clubhouse, 220 West 57 Street, as an individual Landmark. 

The above resolution passed by a vote of 28 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining. 

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