The Knickerbocker Telephone Company

Address: New York, New York
Role: Preservation Architect
Architect: John T. Williams
Year Built: 1894
Completed: 2016
Project Status: Completed

Henson Architecture completed the full façade restoration of the Knickerbocker Telephone Co. Building, located at 200 Lafayette Street in New York City’s SoHo Cast-Iron Historic District Extension. Originally constructed in 1894 by architect and builder John T. Williams, the seven-story loft-style building is designed in the Renaissance Revival style and features a rusticated base, multi-story brick piers topped by molded capitals, elaborate cartouches, and pressed-metal cornices decorated with dentils and scrolled brackets.

In 2012, Henson was retained to address the decades of deterioration, which had left the historic street façade and cast-iron storefront in a state of critical disrepair. The meticulous restoration included the repair and/or replacement of nearly all of the building’s original historic features, including the sheet metal cornice; the brownstone water tables, sills and lintels; the cast-iron bands and storefront bays; and the fire escapes. Much of the top floor of the Lafayette Street façade was reconstructed along with the entire upper half of the sheet metal cornice and decorative brackets, which were replaced to match the original. Due to the extensive deterioration of the brownstone, substantial sections of the water tables had to be completely rebuilt and many of the brownstone lintels and sills had to be cut back and replaced. All the cast iron and wrought iron elements of the facades were stripped, patched or recast and painted to its original historic color (paint analysis performed by Higgins Quasebarth and Partners).

Design architects Stephen B. Jacobs redesigned the storefront bays to match the historic configuration and directed the interior renovation, which celebrates the original historic features by exposing and restoring brick walls, cast-iron columns, heavy timber beams, and wood ceilings. Completed in summer 2016, the 105,000 sf manufacturing building has been converted from an underutilized warehouse into high-end retail and offices spaces.

The project has been recognized by the Society of American Registered Architects with the 2016 Design Award of Excellence, received the 2017 Traditional Building Palladio Award for Adaptive Reuse and was a finalist for the 2018 Architizer A+ Award for Architecture & Preservation.


November 5, 2019


Historic Preservation