001B.jpg (140183 bytes) New York Architecture Images-Soho

The Little Singer Building Landmark


Ernest Flagg


561-3 Broadway (South of Prince Street)  




Art Nouveau


Steel and terracotta facade.


Office Building
  001C.jpg (61294 bytes)001B.jpg (140183 bytes)


Ernest Flagg, a Beaux-Arts trained New York architect designed the "Little Singer Building" in 1902. Its construction began in the spring of 1903, five years before he would create the Singer Tower that for a short time was the world's tallest building. The tower came down in 1967, but fortunately the Singer Loft Building at 561 Broadway survived. Since 1979, it has been a co-op with an unusual mixture of residential and commercial uses: 20 offices and 15 live/work units for artists. The co-op, known as the Singer Studio Corporation, has, for many years, had as its president, a savvy architect, named Joseph Levine.

The Broadway facade of the Little Singer is a twelve story charmer. Flagg employed red brick, steel, reddish terra cotta and glass to frame the elegant facade, which has a nine story recessed central bay five windows wide. Arching over this bay is a flourish of incredibly ornate wrought iron tracery. The second floor displays a similar tracery arch. The attic level is surmounted by an extremely ornate roof cornice held on intricately curved iron brackets.

The airy look of the Little Singer derives from its very wide windows together with the lacy strip balconies across each level. These balconies have delicate wrought iron railings, sophisticated in design and varying from floor to floor. Over the years beginning in 1983, the aging one–time factory was restored by the co-op. This included repainting the decorative ironwork the same deep green color that Flagg had used in 1903. The spacious ground floor has for the last eight years been occupied by Kate’s Paperie.

Actually, the Little Singer Building, said to be structurally Flagg’s most inventive achievement, is an L–shaped structure which has a 37–foot wide iron–trimmed facade at 88 Prince Street similar to the 50–foot facade on Broadway. This facade has similar decorative iron work which at the second level includes large iron letters spelling out “Singer Manufacturing Company”.


Built to house offices and factory space for the Singer Manufacturing Company, this office building was the smaller relative of the company's 41-story headquarters located in the financial district. Both were designed by Flagg, and the latter was completed in 1908. In an innovative way, Flagg manipulated various building materials in favor at the time. The architect combined large glass panes, pigmented terra-cotta panels, wrought-iron balconies and cast-iron ornament to create an intricate cladding for the building's steel skeleton frame. Suspended from a structural frame, this highly ornamented facade is the forerunner of the glass curtain walls found in post-World War II skyscrapers.