Hotel Belleclaire (Thursday Doors)
down deep on its luck
a building rescued, restored–
remembering its bones
The Hotel Belleclaire was one of the first buildings designed by architect Emory Roth. Constructed in the Art Nouveau style, it opened in 1903 as a luxury residence hotel intended for the city’s upper class families. Amenities included long-distance telephone service in every room, private dining rooms, a library, and a roof garden.
It’s history in this iteration included the usual scandals and domestic dramas that seem to follow all New York City buildings around. The Daytonian has a detailed history.
In 1925 architect Louis Allen Abramson replaced the windows and railing on the ground floor with storefronts, and the entrance was moved around the corner to 77th Street. This began the building’s decline. By the latter half of the 1900s the hotel, like many old Upper West Side buildings, had become an SRO full of transients and rampant crime.
After the building was designated a Landmark in the 1990s, it was bought by Triumph Hotels, who began to gradually renovate the interior and return the exterior to some semblance of its original state. Now considered an “affordable” neighborhood hotel, it contains 250 guest rooms and 15 apartments whose tenants were grandfathered in because of local rent laws that prevented their eviction. You can read an interview with one of them here.
I don’t remember the building ever feeling particularly run-down; in fact I always imagined that it would be wonderful to live in one of the corner apartments. But the entire city was kind of down-and-out in the 1970s and 1980s. On the other hand, it was an affordable place to live then.
Now there are tourists going in and out the front door, and a doorman to attend to them. Upscale shops and a café occupy the bottom floor.
Door guardians are still in residence, and lovely details remain all over the façade. This website has some good photos of the ones on the upper floor which I could not capture with my camera–the photo at the top scrolls through them.
And you can visit the hotel’s website, and make a reservation if you like, here.
And don’t forget to visit Dan Antion, the host of Thursday Doors here, where you’ll find more doors, and a place to add your own.
355 Riverside Drive (Thursday Doors)
In youth, a burgeoning
investor, he savored
property that favored
Older, family absent,
weary of empty rooms,
his fine jewel was doomed
A tower was summoned–
an inelegant box–
he resided on top
with river views.
It isn’t illegal
to transform artistry
but it should be.
Above is the building that sits at 355 Riverside Drive today. The top photo is the house it replaced. Built by banker Samuel Gamble Bayne to replace a slightly more modest residence across the street, Bayne at one time owned the entire block between 107th and 108th street from Riverside Drive to Broadway. Both original residences were designed by architect Frank Freeman in the Romanesque style.
I don’t know if the actual door in the new building is what was there when it was built–it’s pretty but plain– but the door surround and the space between the first and second floor windows do have some interesting ornamentation, and I also like the raised brickwork on the bottom floors.
The window guardians (I think Green Man) are a nice touch.
One of Bayne’s daughters had married an architect, Alfred C. Bossom, and that is who the developer Bayne sold his house to, Harris H. Uris, used to design the new building. Bayne, whose wife had died after his four children moved out, no doubt found the house too large, but it’s a shame he couldn’t have found a buyer to preserve the house. He must have liked the location, as he moved into the new apartment building, occupying the entire 14th floor.
The two mansions to the right of the original house in the very top picture still exist, as do the brownstones on 108th street. When I get back uptown, I’ll photo them as well–I think I have photos of some of the doors from when I was just taking pictures of every door I saw, but none that have the details or entire building.
There’s a nice little courtyard garden in the back of the building. You can read more details, and see more photos of 355 Riverside Drive, here.
And here’s an apartment that was recently for sale in the building–you can get an idea of the views Bayne must have had from his windows.
I’ve written an abhanga poem, with synonyms for spring and green, for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday prompt. And I’ve also used some words from this week’s Random Word List.
And visit Dan Antion, who has lots of doors every week, here, at Thursday Doors.
The Kick-About #75 ‘The Garden Of Earthly Delights’
The Garden of Earthly Delights always provides new inspiration.
Our previous Kick-About together was inspired by the organic, floating vessels of Ruth Asawa, exemplars of restraint. Much less so, the teeming visual motifs characterising Bosch’s extraordinary three-act painting, a maximalism of symbols, detail and hybridity. Bosch’s garden has made for a fertile stomping ground for these latest works made in a short time. Welcome to the party – and for all previous editions of The Kick-About, find them compiled right here.
“I can’t help wondering what the people around Bosch thought of this painting; family, apprentices, neighbours etc. I suspect there must have beenquite a few raised eyebrows, disapproving looks, perhaps one or two lasciviousleers. But the painting has survived,andbeen treasured, for over 500 years. You wonder how it would be receivedif it had been painted today?
Although Bosch was in middle age and beyond when he paintedhis Garden of Earthly Delights, I tried to…
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Butcher Brownstones (Thursday Doors)
we know our
date of birth–
have been traversed too many
times to remember—
but no one
has bothered to write
behind every door
These three brownstones, designed by architect Frederick G Butcher in 1889-91, are the only three references to his architecture I could find in my research. I really like the decorative stonework above the doors and windows on the right two houses, which are twins. Why Butcher chose a completely different design for the third one is a mystery.
That house was recently sold for almost six million dollars and converted back to a single family house, so the facade may have been slightly altered–but I imagine not too much, as it’s inside the Landmark District. I looked at the interior online and there don’t seem to be that many original details left on the inside. I’m glad at least the decorative ornamentation above the door remains.
The two arched doors are much more appealing to me. Both of these houses are rentals; one has two duplex apartments and one has six apartments. From the rental listings I found, it looks like they both still retain some of their original interior woodwork, even though they’ve been divided up.
There’s a stained glass insert in the arch of the window on #175.
The ornamentation between the sets of upper windows appears to contain dragons or perhaps sea serpents. Each one is slightly different.
I could find no juicy details on past residents for these two houses–hence my poem, which answers David’s W3 prompt for “a poem from the perspective of an inanimate household object, using personification.” I’m sure he knew I would be using a door.
And visit Dan Antion, the host of Thursday Doors, here, to see more doors and add some of your own.
Chestnut -Collared Longspur (Draw a Bird Day)
boundless blue, rimmed by
far horizons–an ocean
of windswept grass—wings
rise above the waves,
singing in constellations
of sky-feathered light
My choka envisions the American prairie as it once was–a diverse grassland ecosystem ideally suited to its variable climate, supporting hundreds of species, including migratory ones like monarchs. Less than one percent of the original prairie remains, its deep rooted grasses and wildflowers–as many as 200 different species per acre–replaced by suburban lawns and huge farms that grow only a few different crops, crops that lack the ability to replenish the soil and protect against drought. You only need to read about the Dust Bowl to see the results of destroying the native ecology.
Species that have mostly disappeared from the American prairie include bison, foxes, ferrets, elk, wolves, pumas, grizzly bears, beavers, prairie dogs, numerous insects, and all kinds of birds–prairie birds have suffered greater population losses than any bird group in North America.
The chestnut-collared longspur, like many prairie birds, eats seeds from native plants, and walks or runs along the ground to flush and capture insects to eat as well. It particularly like grasshoppers. Its name comes from the extra-long hind claws which help to navigate the uneven ground. Longspurs spend the summer in the northern prairies of the United States and Canada, and winter in southwest grasslands in the US and Mexico.
March 5, 2023
This is the first painting on paper I’ve done in quite a while. I have been pretty committed to rocks. They’ve made for some nice gifts and to be honest I just love doing them.
If you want to get the perfect rocks, Capcouriers on Etsy’s are great. (Kerfe found them, I’ve reordered several times). Painted in straight black gouache gives a very nice surface. The gouache colors stand out well. Then I spray with a high end gloss spray.
More art on a rock.
Best wishes to all and I apologize for my sporadic posting. I will try harder! Nina
Queen Anne Style (Thursday Doors)
but mirrored—until altered
by human hands, time
These two buildings caught my attention, due to the painted trim. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. But I took photos. A little research showed that they had been altered (a repeating story), each in its own slightly different way, since they were designed by Edward Angell in the late 1900s. You may remember Angell as the architect of two other buildings I’ve photographed for Thursday Doors–the brownstones with the Juliet balconies, and the building with Six Happiness door.
Originally private homes, but now apartments, the steps were removed, as so often happens, and the door placed on the garden level, with the original doorway becoming a window. In the case of #46, this was done quite tastefully.
Number 44 is a totally different story–I know Queen Anne style, the dominant architectural style Angell used for these houses, features asymmetry, but this takes it a bit too far. This door is under the original doorway, though, while #46 also changed the location of the door.
As you can see above, the upper floor of #46 has been raised, and one window made larger, but they kept the window surround. I think they should have enlarged the other window as well.
The houses were designed to be asymmetrical mirror images, and they mostly still are. Asymmetry is one of the main components of Queen Anne Style, along with cantilevered windows and decorative trim, often multicolored. The white window frames work better than the black ones I think. Notice that Angell once again provided Juliet balconies.
For some strange reason, not all the decorative trim is painted..
The Daytonian has another detailed history of both these houses. Number 44 was the headquarters of the Nippon Club in New York from 1905-1912, and then a music school for a few years. The residents of both houses had the usual complicated lives. Read all about it, and see a photo of how the houses originally looked, here.
And visit Dan Antion, the host of Thursday Doors, here, to see more doors and add some of your own.
March 2023 (Mad as a March Hare)
Time sinks into quicksand,
manipulated and migrated
by determined legislation–
spring ahead—reset your clocks!
Manipulated and migrated,
Sun surveys Earth with amusement
and continues to keep its own hours.
The determined legislation
impels no change to Sun’s path,
the space it occupies, or how it is viewed.
Spring ahead—reset your clocks!
(The birds will not forget to tell you
when it’s time to rise and shine.)
The Wombwell Rainbow has been posting a weekly poetic form challenge which I always mean to do. This week Paul is asking for poetry that uses idioms. Although it’s the autumn time change that really irritates me, as I dislike the day ending at 3pm, I noted on my March calendar that we will lose an hour of sleep when we “spring ahead” this month. I used the trimeric form which was from a challenge weeks ago, but as you know, I like repetitive forms.
I also used words from the Random Word List.
I did do my usual monthly grid, but using one of the Year of the Rabbits seemed more appropriate to both the month and the poem. And somehow a bird always fits.
The Kick-About #74 ‘Ruth Asawa’
Layering and light inspired by Ruth Asawa.
In common with our last Kick-About together, which was inspired by cephalopods (those buoyant, ballooning denizens of the deep), this latest showcase of new works made in a short time features a further array of responses to floating, globular forms – specifically to the work of Ruth Asawa. Happy browsing.
“I was reminded very much of the fluid melting magic of lava lamps and, in certain elements of Asawa’s creations, I envisioned eyes that reminded me very much of Hitchcock and Dali’s dream sequence in the film, Spellbound. My images were created from photographing melted wax accumulated on a wine bottle over a period of time, with a couple of videos of my own eyes overlaid on top to pay homage to that surreal dream sequence.”
“I like the contradiction in Ruth Asawa’s…
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Velez Blanco (Thursday Doors)
The patio is hushed, other-worldly, the door to an office space a jarring contrast to the feeling of suspended time. Only one other person is present, a woman quietly sitting on a bench nursing her baby. I walk around and around, taking photos and pausing in wonder at the artistry, the attention to detail, in the construction of the room.
I try to imagine the lives of the inhabitants of a castle in 1500s Spain. Was this a place for conversation, entertainment, dancing? or just a passageway to other, more practical, rooms?
My mind fast forwards to New York in the early 1900s—how did George Blumenthal fit this into his townhouse? and to what use did he put it? I see finely dressed men and women, members of high society, gossiping and showing off their latest Paris fashions. Servants discreetly move among them with trays of food and drink.
The arrival of two other people returns me to myself, surrounded by the stillness of the museum’s whispered air. If only the creatures carved into the walls and doorways would speak…
between then and now
I walk imagined pathways–
roots, branches, and trees
This room in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the actual patio from the Castle of Velez Blanco in Andalusia, Spain. Built with the façade of a fortress in the early 1500s on the foundation of a Moorish castle, it fell into ruins in the late 1700s, and its valuables, including the entire patio, were sold off in the early 20th Century. The patio was installed in the townhouse of George Blumenthal in New York, the one where he displayed his art.
The doors and balcony contain many beautiful marble carvings by Italian sculptors working in Spain.
One of the doors serves as an entrance to office space, which is a bit disconcerting.
There are also sculptures scattered throughout the space, including Bernini’s Bacchanal
and this Siren which I found quite appealing.
You can read more about the Castle of Velez Blanco here, and see pictures of the exterior.
And see George Blumenthal’s art mansion and read about it here.
My haibun is for my own W3 prompt–Compose a haibun that contrasts past and present.
And Doors! you can always find more of them, hosted by Dan Antion, at Thursday Doors, here.