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Puck Building

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Dec 16, 2021
article - Puck Building

The Puck Building is a historic building located in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It occupies the block bounded by Lafayette, Houston, Mulberry and Jersey Streets.

United States historic place
Puck Building

from Houston Street (2021)

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Location 295-307 Lafayette Street
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates
Built 1885–86
Architect Albert Wagner and Herman Wagner (later expansion)
Architectural style Rundbogenstil
NRHP reference No. 83001740[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP July 21, 1983
Designated NYCL April 12, 1983

An example of the German Rundbogenstil style of architecture,[2] the building was designed by Albert Wagner,[3] and was constructed in two parts. The north section was built in 1885–86, and the south addition in 1892–93.[3] The front of the building on Lafayette Street was relocated in 1899 when the street then called Elm Place[4] was widened, this was supervised by Herman Wagner.[3] The building was rehabilitated in 1983–84 and further renovated in 1995 by Beyer Blinder Belle.[3] The building sports two gilded statues by sculptor Henry Baerer of Shakespeare‘s character Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one on the northeast corner at Houston and Mulberry, and one over the main entrance on Lafayette.[3]

The building is located at the northwestern corner of Manhattan’s NoLIta neighborhood, bordered by SoHo and the NoHo section of Greenwich Village. It is owned by Kushner Properties, the company of Charles Kushner and his son Jared Kushner, son-in-law of former United States President Donald Trump.

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The Lafayette Street entrance (2003)
Gilded statues of Shakespeare‘s character Puck can be found in several places around the building’s exterior.

The building was constructed as the printing facility of J. Ottmann Lithographic Company as a seven-story structure, with a nine-story structure added on in 1892.[5]

The building was the longtime home of Puck magazine, which gave the building its name; Founded in St. Louis in 1871, the magazine moved into the building in 1887 and remained there until it ceased publication in 1918.[6]

A June 1887 fire caused significant damage, estimated as high as $30,000, including water damage to Puck magazine’s editorial rooms.[7] A fire in November caused $50,000 in damage after a can of turpentine caught on fire inside a finishing room where workers were producing Christmas cards.[8]

The building later housed numerous independent printing firms and related printing services such as typesetters and a printing ink company, Superior Printing Ink. The odor of printing ink permeated the building for many years. An office stationery company, S. Novick & Son, once occupied the second floor. Notable among that firm’s salesmen was Alger Hiss, the former Assistant Secretary of State, who was brought down in a spy scandal in the 1950s.[9]

The Serra family bought the building in 1978 and allowed the building to empty out as tenants left over the years as their leases expired.[5] A proposed 1981 conversion of the building eliminated the inclusion of residential space based on the economics of paying displaced commercial tenants a fee of $9 per square foot.[10] The building reopened in April 1983 after an $8 million renovation and restoration project that created condominium spaces for businesses primarily related to the arts.[5]

On November 5, 1982, author and artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha was raped and killed by security guard and serial rapist Joey Sanza in The Puck Building. Cha had gone there to meet her husband, photographer Richard Barnes, who was documenting the renovation of the building.[11] Cha died a week after the publication of her book Dictee.[12] Sanza was convicted after five years and three trials.[11]

Owner Jared Kushner sought approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to erect six penthouse apartments at the top of the red-brick building. After initially being turned down in October 2011, Kushner made two modifications and his plans were approved. The first of the six units closed in May 2014, selling for $28 million.[13]

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