Liggett Hall is a former barracks building designed by McKim, Mead & White and built in 1929 at Fort Jay on Governors Island, a long time U.S. Army post and administrative center in New York Harbor. The Georgian Revival building follows a design from a master plan for Fort Jay that the architectural firm developed for the island post at the request of Secretary of War Elihu Root in 1904. The overall plan was never executed but inspired designs by other architectural firms, whether augmenting the barracks or constructing Works Progress Administration projects in the mid-1930s, including the post hospital, corps area headquarters, officer's family and non-commission officers family housing.
Influenced by the regimental barracks of France that the U.S. Army used in World War I, the barracks was the first of three large barracks complexes constructed between the world wars by the army to house an entire regiment. The two others were "The Curatels," larger than Liggett Hall and built between 1930 and 1939 at Fort Benning Georgia; and "The Castle," a 1,285-man barracks at McChord Army Airbase constructed in 1940.
The need for Liggett Hall was dire in the 1920s. Temporary wood barracks and old warehouses remaining from World War I housed the 16th Infantry Regiment (United States) the garrison for the post from 1922 to 1941. Repeatedly reported as substandard and subject to several destructive fires through the 1920s, funds were finally appropriated for its construction in 1928–29. While the need for the barracks was never in question, the intention behind the alignment of the 400-yard-long building across the middle of Governors Island has been.
The island was under consideration for some time by City of New York as a small, 2000-foot-long downtown airport or airstrip. But as laid out, the building stretches across the center of the island for almost half its width, thwarting the possibility of building a runway; the proposal finally became moot in the 1930s when federal government aviation regulations required airport runways to be 3000 feet in length, together with construction of LaGuardia Airport in Queens. Today, Liggett Hall is centerpiece of Governors Island Park. Unsympathetic additions have been removed to create Liggett Terrace, a multi-use plaza connecting the island's historic northeastern section with its southwestern expanse, the latter cleared of later structures to create parkland.
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