The Story Behind the Neighborhood’s Most Charming ‘Grotesques’


Posted on December 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm by West Sider

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Look up as you pass a building on 110th Street and you’ll see some of the most charming decorative architecture in the entire neighborhood. The Brittania at 527 West 110th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam has several grotesques (like gargoyles but without water spouts) brimming with humor and life.

The sculptures, photographed by Stephen Harmon, show the figures eating soup, reading. In one, a cook surreptitiously tastes the broth.

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The building was designed in 1909 by an architecture firm called Waid & Willauer hired by J. Charles Weschler, according to Christopher Gray in the Times. The nine-story building looked like an “old English house,” much homier than some of the cookie-cutter apartment buildings going up at the time.

One of the designers, Arthur Willauer, wrote an apologia for his creation in a 1909 issue of The American Architect. He proclaimed, “Let us give to the crowded thousands some portion of that joy that we have known abroad and from the real homes in our own country — what finer work could the members of our profession do than this!”

You can see some of the original floor plains for the building here.

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via West Side RagWest Side Rag