The Estey Piano Company Factory, an outstanding example of the American round-arched style, not only showcases many representative features of a factory building of its time, but exhibits—especially on the original factory building and the 1890 addition—a particularly elegant handling of these features, many of which, like the corner clock tower, are unusually distinctive. Altered only slightly since 1919, the Estey Piano Company Factory remains, in the words of the AIA Guide to New York City, “the grande dame of the piano trade: not virgin, but all-together and proud.” 158
T h e E s t e y P i a n o C o m p a n y F a c t o r y i s a n L - s h a p e d , f i v e - s t o r y b u i l d i n g w i t h a p r o j e c t i n g c l o c k t o w e r a t its southwest corner. Spanning the east side of Lincoln Avenue between Bruckner Boulevard and East 134 Street, the building has three primary street facades, all of which feature face brick laid in common bond: a 200-foot-long Bruckner Boulevard façade, a 200-foot-long Lincoln Avenue façade, and a façade on 134 Street that is approximately 69 feet in length and attached to an elevator shaft. t h th
The original factory building, which was constructed in 1885-86, extended for 100 feet along Lincoln Avenue and for 100 feet along Southern (now Bruckner) Boulevard. Comprising the westernmost 15 upper- story bays on the south façade and the southernmost 15 upper-story bays on the west façade of the existing building, including the clock tower, this original portion of the Estey Piano Factory was extended by 100 feet to the east along Bruckner Boulevard with the construction of a five-story addition in 1890. (The construction of the 1890 addition resulted in the demolition of three buildings of one and two stories that were completed at the same time as the original factory, and which had a combined street frontage of 80 feet.) Before the con- struction of the 1890 addition, the five-story portion of the south façade terminated, at its east, with a two-bay projection featuring round-headed windows, all set within a corbelled recess, at the first through fifth floors. This projection—which was identical to the two-bay projection that originally terminated the Lincoln Avenue façade, and remains virtually unchanged today—extended above the adjacent portion of the façade, and, like the clock tower, outward from the façade plane. With the completion of John B. Snook & Sons’ 1890 addi- tion, the two-bay projection on the south façade was doubled in width—the two new bays matching the original two—and its parapet was raised to match, in height, the parapet above the then-new, three-bay projec- tion at the eastern end of the extended façade. Both the raised and new parapets featured, just below their pressed-metal cornices, recessed square panels arranged in a row. Also at that time, the four-bay projection became the central feature of a broad, essentially symmetrical Southern Boulevard façade, with the new three- bay projection at the eastern end of the façade balancing the three-bay, projecting clock tower at the building’s corner.
The 1890 addition is virtually indistinguishable from the original portion of the factory, largely because it is faced in matching red-orange brick laid in common bond. It also features matching ornament, including stringcourses composed of decorative brick laid in a zigzagging pattern that align with the stringcourses on the original building; a dogtoothed, soldier-brick course just below the parapet that also aligns with the original; recessed, rectangular brick panels with corbelling, and terra cotta tiles arranged in a repeating three-tile pattern, with each of the three tiles featuring a different foliate design, at the roof parapets; projecting, molded sand- stone stringcourses just below the parapets; and sandstone window sills, each supported by two courses of corbelled brick. The three-bay projection at the south façade’s eastern end largely duplicates the fenestration and ornament of the clock tower’s second through fifth floors, featuring segmental-headed window openings with arches composed of stone springers and three courses of header brick, set within a corbelled brick recess, at the second floor; square-headed windows at the third and fourth floors, and round-headed windows at the fifth floor; light-colored, contrasting stone trim, which wraps the heads of the rectangular openings and com- poses a short stringcourse at the springer level of the fifth-floor openings; and a belt course of terra cotta tiles that matches that of the clock tower, in an alternating festoon and lions’-head motif, just below a projecting stone sill course at the third floor. The easternmost three-bay projection, like the central four-bay projection on the south façade, is crowned by a stepped, pressed-metal cornice with a cyma profile at its top. The 1890 addition features seven basement-level openings with stone lintels that are larger than the five basement-level openings on the south façade of the original building; these five original openings retain their historic metal grilles. Aside from this difference, the addition continued the fenestration pattern of the original factory’s south façade: except for the openings on the three-bay east projection, the central four-bay projection, and the