An Historical Treasure – 644 Broadway

Lower Broadway can be an exhilarating place.  The rush of pedestrian traffic moves you along, shopping bags in tow, eyes darting from window to window.  But downtown Broadway offers more; maybe it deserves a Sunday morning before the rush.  Sky those eyes upwards and cherish the architecture, much of it hasn’t changed in more than a century.

644 Broadway, otherwise known as Bleecker Tower, at the northeast corner of Broadway and Bleecker sits at the nexus of three of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods: Noho, Greenwich Village and Soho.  With that being said, it’s one of those buildings that many New Yorkers have passed routinely without notice. It’s too bad, because it’s a piece of history, part of the fabric that defines this city. 

The landmarked structure stands like an enchanting siren at this prominent downtown corner, its chamfered facade beckoning passersby to take a doubletake. The inviting soft corner was designed as an entrance for the building’s original occupant, The Manhattan Savings Institute (MSI).  The building, which opened in 1891, was designed by famed architect Stephen Decatur Hatch.  

The allure of 644 Broadway extends far beyond its retail entrance.  The building is flush with architectural elements; Hatch, who is also responsible for the fabled Gilsey House at 1200 Broadway, was known for creating his own unique aesthetic and for following his own design whims.  There is no corner of the building’s facade which was not planned to the smallest of details. Distinctive features include the orange colored sandstone, the two-story Romanesque-style arches (there are five such arches on the Bleecker side of the building) and the rich terra cotta stone carvings.  No one would dare try to replicate this building today.   

644 Broadway

Fast forward to the late 1980’s when the eight-story structure was restored and repurposed for residential use.  Under the direction of renowned preservation architect, Joseph Pell Lombardi, this historic property was converted to 15 large lofts.  The base remains dedicated to retail use.

At the top of the building Hatch leaves his mark as well with an historical nod to the building’s forebear, the Manhattan Savings Institute.  The initials MSI are prominently embossed on the building’s copper pediment.  A circular tower, akin to a crown, graces the corner.

Older buildings in New York often have a story to tell.  644 Broadway is no exception.  In October 1878, James “Old Jimmy” Hope, one of the country’s most successful bank robbers, broke into the Manhattan Savings Institute along with his gang and fled with more than $2.75 million dollars, a huge sum of money in the late 19th century.  If you’re a movie buff, you may recall the building from Ghostbusters 2.  Dr. Peter Venkman, played by Bill Murray, resided here.

The last loft to sell at 644 Broadway was apartment 3-W, a 2903 square foot four-bedroom home.  The recorded price of $3.2 million was slightly above $1100 per square foot.  The corner residence boasts an endless great room, 12-foot ceilings, original wood floors, a five-fixture master bath and a laundry room.  Michael Meier and Michelle Levine of Compass represented the seller.  

Should you like to check out the building and view current availabilities, click here to visit Linecity.com

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