East Village Building Blocks

249 ½ East 13th Street | Block : 469 | Lot #39

  • Building Date : 1891
  • Original Use : Industrial
  • Original Owner : Joseph Moretti
  • Original Architect : Max Schroff

Description & Building Alterations

Built in the rear yard of 215 Second Avenue, 249 ½ East 13th Street was built in 1891 as a sculptor’s studio at a time when stables were frequently converted to studios. As such, the building appears as a faux-converted-stable. The little building was designed by architect Max Schroff for sculptors Karl Bitter and Giuseppe (or Joseph) Moretti, both of whom lived in the apartment building at 215 Second Avenue. While Moretti is listed as the original owner of the studio, it was built on the property belonging to Eimer & Amends and it was with their permission that the building was constructed. Bitter and Moretti only used the space for one year, after which they moved on as independent sculptors. Their two names are carved into the stone of the studio.

Karl Bitter was an Austrian born sculptor who immigrated to the United States in 1889. He quickly found success in New York City after winning the commission to sculpt the bronze doors for Trinity Church. While doing this work, he was introduced to architect Richard Morris Hunt. It was on a project for Hunt, the Marble House, that Bitter met Giuseppe Moretti. Moretti, a native of Sienna, Italy, began studying as a marble sculptor around the age of nine. When he immigrated to America, he had already worked as a sculptor throughout Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary. Moretti gained great fame as a sculptor in America, working with architects such as Richard Morris Hunt and for patrons including the Vanderbilts and the Rothschilds.  His statue Vulcan in Birmingham, Alabama, is the largest cast iron sculpture in the world, and he is said to be the first person to use aluminum in sculpture.

The small, two-story brick building with its mansard roof, large dormer windows, and skylights made for a bright studio space in which to work. The brick dentil molding above the stone frieze lends a classic Greek-style to the building, while the brick blind arches provide interest and symmetry. After Bitter & Moretti left the studio, another sculptor moved into the building in 1899. The window on the second floor was inserted at this time.

Block : 469 / Lot : 040 / Building Date : 1891 / Original Owner : Joseph Moretti / Original Use : Industrial / Original Architect : Max Schroff

Do you know this building? Please share your own stories or photos of this building here!

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial