Art Deco Metals Assessment—7 Gracie Square
At 7 Gracie Square is a cast stone and brick Art-Deco apartment house built in 1929 in Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood on the Upper East Side. The building was designed by George Post & Sons. Its austere principal façade faces north and overlooks Carl Schurz Park.
The building’s lobby is black and cream toned marble and terrazzo designed around a nautical theme and is said to have been the creation of Canadian muralist Arthur Crisp, who also developed the property. The main entrance compliments the lobby with a stunning blend of metals and cast decorative work that had become deteriorated over time and was in need of restoration.
The cooperative board hired us in 2010 to assess the doorway to 7 Gracie Square. The purpose of the assessment was to understand the original artistic intent of the entrance and develop a cost estimate and approach for its restoration. Base metals were characterized as cast iron, sheet brass, cast bronze, and aluminum; original finishes on these base metals were more difficult to determine. Using a hand-held X-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine that identifies constituent elements of a material, we confirmed base metals and also identified existing finish remnants and discovered, to their surprise, that the cast iron gazelle panel adorning the door head was plated in cadmium, a rare metal rarely used in decorative work of this type. Working with a cast iron restoration contractor, we developed a full scope of work and approach to restoring original finishes that would return the doorway to its original appearance and full operation.