Temple Court Building in Financial District has renovated atrium declared a landmark

Temple Court Building (now The Beekman Hotel) 3 – photo credit Landmarks Preservation Commission
Courtesy of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Financial District’s Temple Court Building and Annex, which were declared landmarks more than a quarter-century ago, received further protection on Tuesday.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to bestow interior landmark status to the building’s atrium, which had been closed to the public for years before being restored when the building was transformed into The Beekman Hotel in 2013 by GFI Development.  

The building dates back to 1881 when it was first commissioned by Eugene Kelly, after the financial panic of 1879. The nine-story building at 5 Beekman St., designed by the firm Sililman and Farnsworth, officially opened in 1883 with more than 200 offices.

“The Temple Court Building’s stunning skylighted atrium combined engineering ingenuity with beautiful design and incredible workmanship and helped make this building one of the most celebrated downtown towers of its era,” said Sarah Carroll, Landmarks Preservation Commission chair. 

Courtesy of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Beyond its alluring design, the building is a testament to historic architecture in New York City as it is the earliest-remaining tall “fireproof” office building in the city. 

In the 19th century, a boom for taller buildings was possible with new construction technology and assets like elevators and iron floor beams. Before then, buildings only went as tall as four floors. As taller buildings rose in abundance, atriums also grew in popularity, as they allowed for natural light and ventilation. 

Due to fire safety concerns, the popularity of atriums dropped, and over the years, many were either removed or sealed off. As a result, atriums of this era are rare.

“A unique and historic interior atrium like this may be difficult to restore, but The Beekman has gifted us a remarkable precedent in creativity and passion necessary to preserve and protect New York City’s historic buildings and space,” said City Council Member Christopher Marte (D-Manhattan).