Circle Tours

Park Avenue Armory (formerly Seventh Regiment Armory)

Kirsten Reoch, Senior Project Director of the Park Avenue Armory led the tour

September 12, 2012

Professional Circle members took part in another behind-the-scenes tour of the ongoing restoration of the historic rooms at the Park Avenue Armory.

Designed during the Gilded Age, this building cost $650,000 at the time, about 1 billion in today’s value; it was built by New York State’s prestigious Seventh Regiment of the National Guard. Members of what was known as the “Silk Stocking” Regiment included New York’s most prominent families including the Vanderbilts, Van Rensselaers, Roosevelts, Livingstons and Harrimans. It was built as both a military facility and a social club, the reception rooms on the first floor and the Company Rooms on the second floor were designed by the most prominent designers and artists of the day including Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White, Herter Brothers and Pottier & Stymus. The Armory’s 55,000 square foot drill hall, reminiscent of the original Grand Central Depot and the great train sheds of Europe, remains one of the largest unobstructed spaces of its kind in New York. A marvel of engineering in its time, it was designed by Regiment veteran and architect Charles W. Clinton.

The Armory tour was led by Kirsten Reoch, Senior Project Director and historian of the Park Avenue Armory. Ms. Reoch pointed out the ‘labor of love’ restoration work that has been accomplished over the last five years. Her non-profit group, Park Avenue Armory, has a 99-year lease of the state-owned property with a goal to take the long-time neglected building and restore it for public use. The building had suffered water damage and structural problems; it was feared that this massive five-story fortress would be lost. Thankfully, the building is undergoing a $200-million transformation designed by Herzog & de Meuron, it has had cracks repaired, masonry repointed, leaks fixed, replacement of heating and electrical and the space is now used for many different types of art programs and events. The restoration has a unique goal, which is to restore each room to the original design artistry while at the same time recognizing its age. The idea is not to recreate what is lost, but rather remove any alterations, restore what has been neglected and let the work from the original hands of these legendary artists show through.

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