Description & Building Alterations
Built in 1886 by Samuel Thorne and S. F. Jenkins as a tenement with stores, 48 Third Avenue cost $15,000 to construct and was designed by James M. Farnsworth (1847-1917). Samuel Thorne (1835-1915) was President of the Pennsylvania Coal Company, and served on the boards of Bank of America, the New York Life Insurance Company, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a member of tony private social clubs, the Union League and the Metropolitan Club, he was connected with J. P. Morgan and the Vanderbilts. Instead of designing heavier ornament typical of other Victorian-era buildings, Farnsworth used a light and purposeful approach to the building’s detailing. Recessed mortar joints and belt courses wrapping the building emphasize its structure. The patterns of its cornice imply more abstract, naturalistic forms than the classically derived ornament more typically found on tenement cornices from this era. However, the most richly detailed element of the building is the gorgeous, balconette-like iron fire escapes on the 10th Street elevation, more reminiscent of New Orleans than New York.
The quirky Stuyvesant Curiosity Shop occupied this ground floor in the 1920’s and 30’s. In the 1950’s through 1970’s a wine and liquor store occupied the 3rd Avenue and 10th Street storefronts. The building also housed the March Gallery from 1957 until 1960, which was run by Boris Lurie, a Holocaust survivor. Lurie gained national attention in 1960 as one of the founders of the NO!art movement, which stood in opposition to the popular movements of the era such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.
This five-story old-law tenement still retains its original cornice, but its ground floor storefront has been altered.
Block : 556-1 / Lot : 28 / Building Date : 1886 / Original Owner : Samuel Thorne & S.F. Jenkins / Original Use : Residential / Original Architect : James M. Farnsworth & Co.