Remember The Triangle Fire Coalition

Triangle Fire Open Archive

Politics + Activism

Amendment to Building Erection Application No. 382

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Permit allowing 2 staircases

Contributed by : Open Archive

Object # 52

1900

Dated May 1900, an amendment to the original application for the erection of the Asch Building (now the Brown Building). Includes details about the construction of the building mainly concerning the construction of the walls and ceilings, there are a few mentions of the intended fire escapes. Most interestingly, the author specifies that while normally three staircases are required, in the case of the Asch building two will be sufficient, as there will be a fire escape in the court which will take the place of a third staircase.

Courtesy of : NYC Municipal Archives

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Commentary

The files for the loft building, built in 1900-1901 as the Asch building (it was later renamed the Brown Building), revealed a fortuitous exchange between the City’s Department of Buildings and the architect for the building.
A list of objections, sent from the Department of Buildings to the architect, cited for disapproval of the permit for the building’s original construction in 1900. We were particularly interested in the third item on the list, which reads, “An additional continuous line of stairs must be provided”.
A follow-up response from the John Woolley, the architect, asks for a modification of the Building Law so that the building could be approved without an additional staircase. Woolley was apparently of the opinion that one fire escape and two staircases were sufficient.
Testimony from those who escaped the 1911 fire revealed that access to the two stairwells proved difficult.

- Sheryl Woodruff
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

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