United Charities Building

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United Charities Building
United Charities Building.jpg
United Charities Building is located in New York City
United Charities Building
Location 105 East 22nd St.
(287 Park Ave. So.)
Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates 40°44′21.8″N 73°59′11″W / 40.739389°N 73.98639°W / 40.739389; -73.98639Coordinates: 40°44′21.8″N 73°59′11″W / 40.739389°N 73.98639°W / 40.739389; -73.98639
Built 1893[2] with additions in 1897 and 1915[3]
Architect Robert H. Robertson (original building)
James Baker (additions)
Architectural style Renaissance Romanesque
NRHP Reference # 85000661[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP March 28, 1985[1]
Designated NHL July 17, 1991[4]

The United Charities Building, also known as United Charities Building Complex, at 105 East 22nd Street or 287 Park Avenue South, in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, near the border of the Flatiron District, was built in 1893 by John S. Kennedy, a wealthy banker, for the Charity Organization Society.


The entrance to the main building at 105 East 22nd Street

The Charity Organization Society was something like a "Charity Trust", in that it represented the combined resources of many Protestant charities, including more than a thousand prominent families and over 500 churches and societies. The United Charities Building also housed others of Kennedy's favorite charities, including the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, the Children's Aid Society, and the New York Mission and Tract Society,[3][5] providing them with a low cost location for their operations. Other charities were allowed to rent space at below market rates.[6] In 1891, the New York City Consumers' League, founded by Josephine Shaw Lowell, Helen Campbell – author of the 1882 book The Problem of the Poor – and Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, established its offices in the building.[7]

R. H. Robertson, who designed the building, assisted by the firm of Rowe & Baker, was selected by Kennedy as the architect because of his extensive experience with charitable buildings, including the YWCA on East 15th Street. James Baker, Robertson's nephew, may have worked on some of the original exterior, but did do the later additions to the building in 1897, when the original mansard roof was removed and three stories were added to the original seven, and in 1915, when a four-story addition at 111 East 22nd was constructed.[3]

Although the main building still houses some charitable organizations, such as the Community Service Society, today it is used for multiple purposes. The northern part of the main building, which had been partitioned from the rest and renamed the Kennedy Building, is now apartments, while the 22nd Street extension became the headquarters for the Dockworkers' Union in 1946. The union sold the building in the 1980s and it was converted for commercial use.[3]

The complex was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1991,[4][2][8] and is part of a proposed extension to the Gramercy Park Historic District.[9] However, architecturally the building is described in the AIA Guide to New York City as "bulky and boring", with the comment that "even Robertson could occasionally produce a bland product."[10] The building sits across 22nd Street from the headquarters of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, which was built in 1892.



  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b [http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/85000661.pdf "United Charities Building", September 29, 1989, by Page Putnam Miller PDF (396 KB) "National Register of Historic Places Registration"]. National Park Service. 1989-09-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d "United Charities Building" at Gramercy Neighborhood Associates
  4. ^ a b "United Charities Building". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-20. 
  5. ^ Burrows, Edwin G. & Wallace, Mike (1999). Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195116348. , p.1159
  6. ^ Places Where Women Made History: United Charites Building, at National Park Service
  7. ^ Burrows, Edwin G. & Wallace, Mike (1999). Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195116348. , p.1178
  8. ^ [http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Photos/85000661.pdf United Charities Building--Accompanying 2 photos, exterior, from 1989 PDF (354 KB) "National Register of Historic Places Registration"]. National Park Service. 1989-09-29. 
  9. ^ "Proposed Gramercy Park Historic Districe Extension" at Gramercy Neighborhood Associates
  10. ^ White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5. , p.208

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