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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Fred F. French Building

 
 
The Fred F. French Building Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Herrick, May 19, 2010
1. The Fred F. French Building Marker
Inscription.  The Fred F. French Building was constructed in 1926-27 as the home of this prominent real estate firm. Designed by the architectural firm of Sloan & Robertson, it is striking for its combination of Art deco and near eastern imagery. An example of linking historicism and modernism in the architecture of the 1920s, the Fred F. French Building is one of the finest examples of distinctive corporate imagery from the era of New York's building boom of the 1920s, which followed the completion of Grand Central Terminal in 1913. The lobby and Vestibule are also designated as an interior landmark.
 
Erected 1993 by Tiffany & Co.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & CommerceLandmarks. In addition, it is included in the Art Deco series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1913.
 
Location. 40° 45.332′ N, 73° 58.751′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York County. Marker is at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 45th Street, on the left when traveling south on Fifth
The Fred F. French Building image. Click for full size.
By Michael Herrick, May 19, 2010
2. The Fred F. French Building
The marker is to the right of the entrance. Unfortunately the construction awning blocked a view of the entire facade.
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Avenue. Located on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue & West 45th Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 551 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10176, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York (about 600 feet away); The Harvard Club (about 600 feet away); "The Kneeling Fireman" (about 700 feet away); Penn Club of New York (about 700 feet away); Charles Scribner's Sons Building (about 700 feet away); New York Yacht Club (about 700 feet away); Nathan Hale (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
 
Regarding The Fred F. French Building. The Fred F. French Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January, 2004. At 38 stories, this was the tallest building on Fifth Avenue when it was completed in 1927. It was one of the first Art Deco skyscrapers with a flat roof. Babylonian constructions inspired the building's design and decorations. The building is composed of limestone, brick and terra cotta and the design features setback roofs on various floors. Composed of the finest materials and finishes, the interior features Roman travertine floors, St. Genevieve marble walls, cast bronze elevator doors and patterned glass chandeliers.
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Bronze-framed storefronts at the base of the building include a combination of old and new components that recall the spirit of the original retail facade.

MetLife purchased the building in 1985 and immediately began a major capital renovation which included a lobby renovation and modernization of the ten passenger elevator cabs.
Upon completion, 551 Fifth Avenue was recognized by BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association International) with its 1994/1995 Historic Building of the Year Award.
 
Also see . . .
1. Fred F. French Building at The City Review. (Submitted on May 23, 2010, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
2. Who in the World Was Fred F. French?. (Submitted on May 23, 2010, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
3. The Lost Church of the Heavenly Rest -- 551 5th Avenue. "Daytonian in Manhattan" entry for the original building on the site. (Submitted on April 13, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 26, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 23, 2010, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 758 times since then and 21 times this year. Last updated on February 3, 2020, by Bruce Guthrie of Silver Spring, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 23, 2010, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.

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Oct. 25, 2021