181 and 185 Montague Street Granted Landmark Protection

(New York)- The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission today unanimously voted to designate the People’s Trust Company Building at 181 Montague Street and the National Title Guaranty Company Building at 185 Montague Street.

The designated properties are just outside the Brooklyn Heights Historic District to the west and the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District to the east. For nearly a century, this section of Montague Street between Clinton and Court Streets has been known as Bank Row, and has been populated by banks, insurance companies, and real estate agencies that sought a location close to Borough Hall, while providing services to the growing population of Brooklyn Heights.

“These two adjacent buildings are critical to the unique character of what is known as Bank Row,” said Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “Built a quarter of a century apart, they are striking examples of the optimistic architecture of their times– one looking to the past to convey stability and reliability, and one looking to future growth and success. Both imposing and well-preserved, 181 and 185 Montague complete the Commission’s collection of historic financial services institutions that highlight the commercial history of this important Brooklyn corridor.”

People’s Trust Company Building, 181 Montague Street
People’s Trust Company Building, 181 Montague Street

This imposing neo-Classical bank building was built in 1904 for the Brooklyn-based People’s Trust Company. As one of the first commercial banks built in this section of Brooklyn Heights, it was essential to the development of Bank Row on Montague Street.

The building was constructed in 1904, at the height of the transformation of Montague Street into the major commercial artery of Brooklyn Heights. The exterior skillfully blends Greek, Roman, and Renaissance elements and exemplifies turn-of-the-20th-century commercial bank architecture, linking ideas of civic pride, wealth, and stability. At the time of construction, its four monolithic Ionic columns were the largest blocks of marble ever quarried, each weighing 28 tons. Free-standing anthemia and lions-head details further adorn the structure’s pediment and roofline. 181 Montague remains intact, and continues its banking tradition by housing a Citibank branch.

National Title Guaranty Company Building, 185 Montague Street

People’s Trust Company Building, 181 Montague Street

Designed in 1929-30 by design firm Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray, the limestone and brick National Title Guaranty Company Building is notable for its strong massing and unusual details. The building is a notable example of Art Deco commercial architecture.

The National Title Guaranty Company was founded to meet the needs arising from the growth of residential development in Brooklyn in the early 20th century. Remarkably intact, the National Title Guaranty Company Building is an important example of an early 20th century skyscraper and a significant reminder of the period when Montague Street was the hub of Brooklyn’s financial services industry.