Technical Assistance

Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade

Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
-Academy of Arts and Letters Main Building
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
-Art Gallery addition showing removed panel
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
-Art Gallery addition
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
-Art Gallery Detail
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
-Marble panel that was taken down
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
-Netting over lunette panels on 156th St
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
Emergency Grant Goes to Stabilize Academy of Arts and Letters Facade
-Ongoing restoration of former Numismatic Society

December, 2016

Conservancy’s emergency grant goes to stabilize neo-classical facade in Upper Manhattan.

When a piece of limestone fell from the Italian Renaissance style façade of the American Academy of Arts and Letters gallery building on the north side of Audubon Terrace, a call to the Conservancy resulted in a $15,000 emergency grant to inspect and stabilize the hazardous condition.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters owns several magnificent buildings at Audubon Terrace, an individually landmarked ensemble located on Broadway between W.155th and W.156th Streets. The Academy’s main building was designed by McKim Mead & White and was built in 1921-23. In 1928, Cass Gilbert designed an auditorium and art gallery addition that match the Italian Renaissance style of the original building.

In November, Academy staffers noticed a piece of sandstone weighing about a pound lying on the ground near the art gallery entrance facing Audubon Terrace. It had come lose from the façade. The Academy turned to the engineering firm of Old Structures who recommended a thorough inspection of the facade and netting where necessary. The Academy, which is currently restoring the limestone and stucco façade of another building in the complex, called the Conservancy for help. With our grant, a movable scaffold was built that allowed engineers to inspect the monumental two-story façade one section at a time. Their conclusion after “sounding” every stone, was that the limestone façade was in no need of netting but that decorative marble panels on the second story were in poor condition. One panel was noticeably bulging and ready to break apart. That panel was taken down and replaced with a temporary wooden cover. The other three panels will be netted for safety. On the art gallery’s 156th Street facade, lunette panels over the three auditorium entrances, made of the same type of reddish brown marble, were netted to make sure that no pieces from those features would break and fall. Those panels are directly above the doorways to the auditorium.

While permanent restoration work to the art gallery will be undertaken in the future, the Conservancy’s emergency grant helped a distinguished cultural institution make sure that an accident waiting to happen did not happen. Meanwhile, the restoration and rehabilitation of the other magnificent buildings at Audubon Terrace continues apace. Currently, Charles P. Huntington’s 1907 Numismatic Society, now owned by the Academy of Arts and Letters, is undergoing restoration.