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Building Conservation Associates

Moynihan Station, Farley Postal Lobby

Location: New York, New York
Year Built: 1913
Original Architect: McKim, Mead & White

The James A. Farley Building was constructed from 1909 to 1913 according to the design of William Mitchell Kendall of McKim, Mead & White. The firm's design for a monumental Beaux-Arts building located in the business center of Manhattan features a grand row of twenty Corinthian columns along its principal facade on Eighth Avenue. The building was officially opened as the Pennsylvania Terminal Post Office on September 1, 1914. In 1918, the Pennsylvania Terminal Post Office became the U.S. General Post Office, headquarters for the New York Postmaster and the central post office for the city. The U.S. General Post Office was designated a historic landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 1982, the U.S. General Post Office was renamed the James A. Farley Building in honor of the U.S. Postmaster General who served in that position from 1933 to 1940. The main (east) façade is reached by a monumental granite staircase rising from Eighth Avenue. On the interior, the Eighth Avenue side of the building contains the double height main Postal Lobby which extends the full length of the building’s plan.

This project entailed the restoration of the historic General Post Office lobby in the East Farley Building as part of the conversion of the James A. Farley Post Office to Moynihan Train Hall. BCA conducted a hands-on conditions assessment of the interior and exterior historic architectural features and finishes of the Postal Lobby, including the entry rotundas at the northeast and southeast corners which open to monumental stair halls immediately to the west, including ornate ceilings of molded polychrome plaster, marble columns, pilasters, wainscotting, flooring, glazed clerestory windows, metal screening in front of the second floor, exterior granite masonry, monumental windows and revolving door assemblies of the Eighth Avenue façade, interior windows and doors, and monumental historic staircases. BCA performed archival research to understand the building’s alterations over time; extensive field and laboratory testing of decorative finishes, paint, and plaster to determine the original interior decorative paint schemes and prepare treatment recommendations to return the lobby to its original decorative scheme, with particular attention given to the sculptural plaster ceilings of the lobby and rotundas and the decorative glazes used in the replication finishes. BCA prepared plans and specifications for all restoration scope and coordinated the work with the many disciplines involved in this complex project. BCA performed twice-weekly Construction Administration services throughout the restoration. The interior retains part of its historic use as a retail post office in the public lobby with entrances to the offices in the Annex building.

Awards: Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award