Gilsey House

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Gilsey House Hotel
Gilsey House from down Broadway.jpg
a view from down Broadway (2010)
Location1200 Broadway, Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates40°44′46″N 73°59′18″W / 40.74611°N 73.98833°W / 40.74611; -73.98833Coordinates: 40°44′46″N 73°59′18″W / 40.74611°N 73.98833°W / 40.74611; -73.98833
ArchitectStephen Decatur Hatch
Architectural styleSecond Empire
NRHP reference #78001872
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 14, 1978
Designated NYCLSeptember 11, 1979

Gilsey House is a former eight-story 300-room hotel[1] located at 1200 Broadway at West 29th Street in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It is a New York City landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.


Gilsey House from 29th Street, taken from a stereoscopic view (prior to 1900)

Gilsey House was designed by Stephen Decatur Hatch for Peter Gilsey, a Danish immigrant merchant and city alderman[2] who leased[2] the plot – which included the grounds of the St. George Cricket Club – from Caspar Samlar for $10,000 a year.[2][3][4][1] It was constructed from 1869 to 1871 at the cost of $350,000,[1] opening as the Gilsey House Hotel in 1872.[4][5] The cast-iron for the facade of the Second Empire style building was fabricated by Daniel D. Badger,[3][1] a significant and influential advocate for cast-iron architecture at the time;[2] the extent to which Badger contributed to the design of the facade is unknown.[1]

The hotel was luxurious – the rooms featured rosewood and walnut finishing, marble fireplace mantles, bronze chandeliers[4] and tapestries [1] – and offered services to its guests such as telephones, the first hotel in New York to do so.[3] It was a favorite of Diamond Jim Brady, Aimee Crocker and Oscar Wilde, Samuel Clemens was a guest,[6][4][7][8] and it attracted the theatrical trade[3] at a time when the area – which became known as the "Tenderloin" – was becoming the primary entertainment and amusement district for New York's growing population,[9] with numerous theatres, gambling clubs and brothels.[2]

Gilsey House closed in 1911 after legal conflict beginning in 1904 between the operator of the hotel, Seaboard Hotel Company, and the Gilsey estate over the terms of the lease.[10] Parts of the facade, such as cast-iron columns, which went over the property line were removed, and the building deteriorated, with rust, water damage and sagging floors.[4] In 1925, plans were filed to rebuild the structure as an ordinary loft building of brick and stone, but were never carried out,[1] although the ground-level storefronts were modernized in 1946.[2] The building's future was decided when it was purchased in 1980 by Richard Berry and F. Anthony Zunino and converted into co-operative apartments[4] after a cosmetic cleanup of the exterior, which won a commendation from the Friends of Cast Iron Architecture.[1] The facade was finally almost fully restored in 1992 by Building Conservation Associates.[9]

The building, with its "extraordinary" three-story mansard roof [9] and its "vigor that only the waning years of the 19th century could muster"[5] was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It was designated a New York City landmark in 1979.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes: The 1871 Gilsey House; Re-Restoration in the Offing" New York Times (December 29, 1991)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dillon, James T. Gilsey House Designation Report of the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission (September 11, 1979)
  3. ^ a b c d "Gilsey House" at the New York Architectural Images website
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Gilsey House - 29th and Broadway" Accessed:2010-11-20
  5. ^ a b White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5., p.223
  6. ^ Sprague, Stuart Seely. "Lure of the city: New York's great hotels in the golden age, 1873-1907". Conspectus of History. 1 (4): 81.
  7. ^ Wolf, Gerard R. (2003). New York, 15 walking tours: an architectural guide to the metropolis. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 270. ISBN 0-07-141185-2. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  8. ^ "Gilsey House". New York Architecture. 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009). Postal, Matthew A. (ed.). Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1., p.80
  10. ^ "Gilsey House Lease Fight; Tenant Company Says Hotel's Profits Were Misrepresented" New York Times (June 3, 1904)

External links[edit]

Media related to Gilsey House at Wikimedia Commons