"...the design of the Irving Trust building has an insistent verticality which emphasizes its tall form. This set back skyscraper is modeled as if it was chiselled out of a single piece of stone and it is a good example of the Art Deco style popular in the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s. The building's pointed windows echo the Gothic details of Trinity Church across the street, and its Art Deco interior is one of the finest in New York City." www.nyc-architecture.com Special thanks to www.nyc.gov
The 70-Year-Old, 50-Story 1 Wall Street is Declared a Landmark
A Quiet Art Deco Masterpiece
By David W. Dunlap
The Red Room is a glittering, vaulted grotto whose walls and ceilings are slathered in 8,911 square feet of mosaics that create an ambient color of blood orange, inscribed with a skein of gold highlights. The artist Hildreth Meière coordinated the installation of the mosaics, which were made by Ravenna Mosaics in Berlin and Long Island City.”
The New York Times, Real Estate, Sunday March 11, 2001
“Noted Woman Mural Artist……Hildreth Meiere Creates Mosaic for Business Building….Decorated Irving Trust Dome"
By Marion Clyde McCarroll
Miss Meiere, who is said to be the most important woman mural artist in the country, knows a lot about the problem of decorating modern business buildings. The immense silver dome of the new Irving Trust Building at 1 Wall Street, one of the most costly and beautiful pieces of mural decoration ever attempted in the United States, is her work just completed. The pageant-like paintings which compose its decoration are painted upon pure silver leaf, giving the rich and mellow effect usually achieved only by old, handwrought silver. This is the first time that a painting on pure silver has ever been attempted, and authorities believe that the achievement may well take its place in the future of art beside the beautiful murals of Renaissance gold leaf.
The subject matter developed in the design – ‘The Pursuit of Wealth’ – is allegorical in character, suited not only to the present age but to all time. Brought out in rich copper and gold metallic colors in translucent applique and warm color relief, the figures in the pageant-drama symbolize man’s world old struggle for wealth. Laborers, capitalists, the family, the benefactors, all move through this pageant, surging toward its center – a great cascade of gleaming coins which, as they fall, dissolve into designs of idealistic beauty.
Miss Meiere worked out the whole scheme of the design together with Kimon Nicolaides, an instructor at The Art Students’ League and an author on modernism in design. The painting of the mural was done in the artist’s studio on West Fifty-seventh Street, and it took but a few days to have the entire work set into the dome after it was completed. The silver leaf upon which the painting was done was set in carefully prepared plaster made ready only after the work on the rest of the building had been finished. The silver had been chemically treated so that it would not tarnish.”
Evening Post, April 13, 1931
A BANK'S ART DECO SIGNATURE
A 1931 SKYSCRAPER DESIGNED TO BE INVITING, NOT AUSTERE
By Christopher Gray
The bank hired the architectural firm of Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker …..
…This meant a series of Art Deco interiors that remain among the most unusual spaces in New York. Facing Wall Street is the bank’s original reception room, with a high vaulting space in glass mosaic tile, ranging from darker oxblood, Chinese red and other shades to near-orange at the top, all interspersed with a spider web of gold and bronze lines. These were executed by Ravenna Mosaics at a factory in Berlin.
…In 1965, the successor firm to Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker – by then Voorhees, Walker, Smith, Smith & Haines – returned to 1 Wall Street to design an annex directly to the south in a compatible but simplified modern style. On the interior, it appears the modern travertine flooring of the main floor of the annex was extended into the 1931 building at this time, eliminating the deep red marble of the reception room. Perhaps this was also when the ceiling in the 1931 lobby was dropped, covering or perhaps even destroying the Meiere mural.”
The New York Times, Sunday August 1, 1999
The Symbolism of the Lobby Ceiling at Number One Wall Street
In Hildreth Meière’s Own Words:
Standing as this building does, in the heart of the “Financial District,” and at the head of the street whose name throughout the world is the symbol of money-power, it seemed appropriate to express in the ceiling of its main entrance some allegory of the pursuit of wealth.
Considering Wall Street as a narrow canyon through which rushes the concentrated energies of the financial world, a great wave sucking up humanity in a struggle for money, the question arises, “Why this great effort? What is Money?” And the answer was felt to be, “Money is what it buys, and unless it buys Beauty in some form, it has no lasting form.” Beauty can exist without Money, but without an evolution into Beauty, Money has no ultimate reason and existence.
The Lobby ceiling is an expression of this thought.
Starting at the Broadway entrance, the composition springs out in a great sweep, which embraces the entire length of the room. This represents the pursuit of wealth in itself, and is full of human figures. At the very base of the ceiling kneels a mother with a child in her arms, while over her bends the protecting father. Back of her drops away the long procession of the mothers of the race. Here begins the human family and here begins the struggle. Behind and above this group, abstract and featureless, marches the great army of the workers: the vast majority of the world, who work to live, with arms upraised, but with heads bent. They reach for a great disc or round coin, which represents, one might say, the Living Wage. Over this is a woman’s figure, which beckons on and up. Ambition. Those who heed her call reach up. At the side of the composition is a multitude of hands, outstretched, and those who succeed and rise in the scale of financial success are symbolized by the group of heads, as opposed to the bodies of the day labours [sic] below. In the very center of this upward rush is a group of three giants who struggle as in a football scrimmage. They are the “Big Men” to whom Finance is a game and trial of personal strength. Above their heads is another “coin,” with widening circles that whirl off from it. This symbolizes “Big Money” which seems to revolve independently of humanity and turns everything beyond it into a shower of gold. This completes the upward design of this composition, terminating as it does in the group of the Possessors of Wealth. Here we have the men who are weighted down with their riches, and those who through wealth, are given power to rise above their fellows, and riding on their shoulders, to direct them.
The main thrust of the composition does strike the end of ceiling here, but instead of really ending, it bends back on itself, and rushing through the Pursuit of Money, symbolizes the evolution into Beauty which money can have. In the extreme southeast corner of the ceiling is a human figure, which typifies the soul of Man, reaching up from the Materiality of Worldly Possessions to the Beauty that Money can purchase, reaching up to the three winged figures which represent the Need of Beauty which is in all men, who, in turn, with upraised faces and features everyone can understand, sweep on to Beauty itself, symbolized by the flower forms in the northwest corner.
This ceiling can be considered merely as a piece of design that gives scale to the vast expanse of silver which serves as a reflector to light the hall, and carries the lines of the marble walls and their color and which, by movement and treatment, expresses the essence of the building. But, for those who wish a story, the story is there. It is the feeling and the emotion of this story which, dominating and directing the purely decorative problem in a fundamental manner, make it a piece of really creative design.