Sherwood studio building

DEFINITION

Located at 58 West 57th Street in New York City, it has been described as the "uptown headquarters of art, seminal in the history of both art and housing." (Gray) Constructed in 1880 by art patron and real estate developer James Sherwood, it was pioneering as the first structure in the city to combine living and working space and was also the initial art-related facility in the neighborhood that became New York City's art center. Nearby buildings following The Sherwood were the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Students League, Carnegie Hall and upscale galleries such as Knoedler & Durand-Ruel. According to its builder, The Sherwood was to be a place for artists "in receipt of sufficient income to live comfortably, even elegantly." (Gray) The completed structure was a seven-story brick building with 44 apartments, 15 foot high studios, one or two bedrooms, an over-sized elevator to accommodate large artworks, and speaking tubes. Sherwood's great nephew, J. Carroll Beckwith along with Frederic Church are credited with suggesting the facility, and Beckwith, who oversaw the construction, "lived and worked on the top floor of the building for over thirty years." Located near big brownstone town houses such as the Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion, 'The Sherwood' became the leading center of the city's social and cultural life in the early 1900s. (Harris) However, living there was not always blissful. Occupants including Beckwith complained that there was a party every night, that Sherwood was tightfisted about maintenance, that the building's heating system did not work, the elevator was not reliable, and dogs were not allowed, etc. Resident artists included Robert Henri, Al Hirschfeld, Willard Metcalf, Robert Van Boskerck, Henry Siddons Mowbray, Herbert Denman, William Allen Sullivant, Robert Reid, Samuel Isham, Harry Watrous and Carleton Chapman. The building was demolished in 1960, and replaced with an apartment house. Sources: Christopher Gray, 'Streetscapes', archives, "The New York Times", 8/9/1998. Harris Antiques biography; http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/2548320884/; John Davis, "Paintings and Sculpture in the National Academy of Design, 1826-1925", p. 35.

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