Building of the Day: 183 Montague Street

The BOTD is a no-frills look at interesting structures of all types and from all neighborhoods. There will be old, new, important, forgotten, public, private, good and bad. Whatever strikes our fancy. We hope you enjoy.

Address: 183 Montague Street, between Cadman Plaza West and Clinton Avenue
Name: Citibank, originally People’s Trust Bank
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1903, rear addition-1929
Architectural Style: Front is Classical Beaux-Arts, back is Art Deco
Architects: Main building-Mowbray & Uffinger , rear addition-Shreve, Lamb & Harmon
Landmarked: No

Why chosen: Here’s another of Brooklyn’s fine Temples of Mammon. It’s nowhere near as good a building as the later 1913, interior and exterior landmarked, York & Sawyer designed Brooklyn Trust Bank, (now Chase) next door, but it certainly fulfills the mandate of being an impressive place to store your hard earned cash. The People’s Trust was founded in 1889, and its board of trustees reads like a Who’s Who of late 19th century Brooklyn’s most important men. In the 1920’s, the bank merged with other banks, who then merged with the First National City Bank of New York, which changed its name to Citibank in 1976. The architects, Mobray and Uffinger, completed this building four years before the Dime Savings Bank, their masterpiece on DeKalb Avenue, in Downtown Brooklyn. The Classic styling mixes Greek, Roman and Renaissance elements, in which the main exterior features are the large columns supporting the very over-the-top sculptural pediment. One has to pass under the gods to make their offerings in the temple, as it were. The interior still has some nice original elements, but is rather ruined by the necessity of modern bland teller’s stations and other office furniture. I like the rear addition, with its more austere two dimensional reliefs and styling. Shreve, Lamb and Harmon designed this Art Deco addition in 1929, the same year they began their Empire State Building, and it has that formidable solidness that Art Deco often has. An interesting combination, one which would never work in a smaller building. The two entrances impart a totally different banking experience; the front entering a temple, or perhaps a casino, with the ATM’s bleeping and blooping, and the rear – entering the secure and somber seriousness of a bank vault.

(Photo: Googlemaps)

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