New York Architecture Images- Gone / Demolished / Destroyed

Exchange Court


Clinton & Russell


52 Broadway




Historicist Skyscrapers


steel frame, masonry cladding


Office Building



Exchange Court (52 Broadway) 1898-1980. Building converted to 1980s suburban office park HQ of the United Federation of Teachers.


In 1898, the investor William Waldorf Astor built the Exchange Court office building at the southeast corner of Broadway and Exchange Place. The shell is still there, but it was rebuilt in 1981 and is no longer recognizable. Clinton & Russell, Astor’s regular architects, designed a rich wedding cake of rusticated limestone, arranged in the shape of a C. The open court formed the entrance — closed off at night by an elaborate bronze portcullis.

More bronze was arrayed across the Broadway facade at the third floor: 10-foot-tall statues of Henry Hudson; Peter Stuyvesant; George Clinton, the first governor of New York State; and James Wolfe, the British general. The last was a peculiar choice, although he was famous as the victor against the French in the battle for Quebec in 1759. J. Massey Rhind was the sculptor for all four.

A good place to start with historical queries about classical architecture is Henry Hope Reed of the nonprofit Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America, which has its office in New York. He knew immediately where three of the statues were: in Kingston, N.Y., where they can be seen in Academy Green Park.

And General Wolfe? “Well, he’s in Canada — Alberta, I think,” Mr. Reed said.

The statues were removed sometime between 1945 and 1950, but why is an unanswered question. A letter to the editor of The New York Times in June 1945 noted that the statues were still in place, but a photograph published in The Times in August 1950 shows the building sculptureless.

The photo was printed to mark Robert W. Dowling’s sale of Exchange Court, and he presents interesting possibilities.

In 1950, at 77th Street and Madison Avenue, he built the old Parke-Bernet Building, which is notable for its aluminum sculpture by Wheeler Williams. He also owned the Carlyle Hotel.

“He was very interested in art and antiques,” said his daughter Ruth Dowling Bruun. That an art lover should remove art from his own investment doesn’t make obvious sense, but press accounts of the installation at the Kingston park in 1950 describe the statues as having come from a junkyard, suggesting that Mr. Dowling sold them for scrap, an act that seems out of character.

The plot thickens slightly, because correspondence in the collection of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, indicates that no later than 1951, John J. Cunningham, educational director of the National Sculpture Society, wrote to a church in London about sending the Wolfe statue there. That effort was not successful. Mr. Cunningham may have stumbled across the same junkyard, but he might just as well have been involved with the removal of all four statues.

In 1966, Mr. Cunningham offered to sell the Wolfe statue to Eric Harvie, a collector in Calgary, for $11,500. Mr. Harvie countered with $8,000, which was accepted.

Walter Beretta, the monuments officer for the New York City Parks Department, arranged to have the statue cleaned before it was shipped. General Wolfe now stands in front of the Telus World of Science in Calgary. Mr. Beretta had not only studied under J. Massey Rhind but had also looked after New York City park monuments since the 1930s. He must have been keenly aware of his tutor’s works at Exchange Court long before their removal.



And Then There Were None Four statues by J. Massey Rhind were once stationed on the third floor of the Broadway side of Exchange Court, at Broadway and Exchange Place. Three are in Kingston, N.Y., the other in Calgary, Alberta. Peter Stuyvesant, left, and Henry Hudson used to stand guard.