Thursday, September 24, 2015

Offerman Building

View of front facade of building
Offerman Building
Close up view of arch above main entrance
Offerman Building
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Address: 503 Fulton Street

Design and Construction
Located on the Fulton Street Mall between Bridge and Duffield Streets, the Offerman building is a landmarked Romanesque Revival style structure designed by architect Peter J. Lauritzen. The Offerman Building was one of the tallest buildings in the borough at the time of construction. The lots that comprise the site for the Offerman Building were acquired in two phases, so the building was constructed in two phases. The first eight lots were purchased in 1889 and 1890 for $235,000. The construction ground breaking began in 1890, hence the 18 and 90 above the Fulton Street entrance (photo above). In 1892 ten additional lots were acquired, increasing the length of the building wing that fronted Duffield Street. A stone relief reading “1890 OFFERMAN BUILDING 1892” commemorates the starting dates for each phase of construction.[1] Referred to as a "sleazy alteration" by the AIA Guide to New York City, the street level facade on Fulton Street is a contemporary addition.[2] Most of the stone and terracotta architectural detailing above the pedestrian level remains intact.

Peter J. Lauritzen
Born in Denmark in 1847 and trained at the Polytechnic School of Copenhagan, Architect Peter J. Lauritzen worked in Washington D.C. in the 1870s prior to moving to New York City in 1883. The architect gained notoriety when his unsolicited entry to the Manhattan Athletic Club design competition was selected as the winning proposal.[1] In Brooklyn he was known for designing the Union League Club building in Crown Heights, as well as several fire houses throughout the borough.[2] Lauritzen lived near the Offerman residence in Williamsburg and like Offerman he was socially active in Brooklyn. Lauritzen was a member of the Union League and Hanover Club.[1]  

Terracotta detail
H for Henry Offerman
Henry Offerman 
Henry Offerman (1823-1896) was a wealthy businessman. By the time he began engaging in real estate development, he was already a successful industrialist. Offerman was president of the Brooklyn Sugar Refining Company on the East River waterfront at South 2nd Street in Williamsburg. Offerman had been an elder of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church at 63 Schermerhorn Street and supported related causes like the German Hospital Society of Brooklyn. In addition, he was involved with several German shooting clubs and helped to found the first national sharpshooters tournament in 1895.[1]

  1. Postal, Matthew A. NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation Report 15 March, 2005
  2. White, Norval, Willensky, Elliot, and Leadon, Fran AIA Guide to New York. Oxford University Press, 2010
  3. Morris, Montrose "Building of the Day" Brownstoner 28 August 2012

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