New York Architecture Images-Soho

Gunther Building


Griffith Thomas


469 Broome St. 




Second Empire Baroque


Cast Iron Facade









Built as a warehouse for the fur dealer William H. Gunther after whom it is named, this structure later served as a fabric showroom and currently houses an art gallery and artists' studios. These functional changes exemplify Soho's gradual transformation from a short-lived residential area (1820s-30s), into a predominantly textile-oriented commercial district (1850s-1910s), a low grade manufacturing district (1910s-50s), and finally into a neighborhood containing galleries, artists' studios and trendy boutiques (1960s-present).

This six story cast-iron building has a sophisticated Second Empire facade as was popular in the 1870s. This style is characterized by diminishing tiers of broad double-hung windows separated by regularly spaced Corinthian columns and lavish decoration in the form of cornices, balustrades and brackets. The building's curved corner exemplifies the plastic qualities of both cast iron and rolled glass.

The Gunther Building was built by Griffith Thomas in 1871 for merchants of luxury goods. William Gunther, whose name is emblazoned on a cast iron “tiara” over its corner doorway, was a leading dealer in furs. At the turn of the century, his building was home to several important silk merchants, among them Schroeder and Company, silk importers, and Liberty Silk Company, which leased space for its salesroom.

The building’s upper floors have been live/work co–op lofts for artists for nearly thirty years.

This six–story iron front building has always been admired because of the skill with which architect Griffith Thomas handled the curved entrance bay. The first floor has three–quarter round Corinthian columns with an overhead balustrade. Each of the five upper floors has a cornice, including the assertive roof cornice held on by ornate brackets.

All of the windows are framed by flat arches which spring from slender paneled pilasters with stylized Corinthian capitals. At the extreme west end of the ground floor, a diligent observer can discern a metal foundry plate reading Aetna Iron Works.