The Lost World of CCNY: Architectural Gems of Our Past
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Free Academy Building (1849-1927). This building was home for the College from 1849 to 1907. It was designed by James Renwick, Jr. and was located at Lexington Avenue and 23rd Street. It was likely the first Gothic Revival college building on the East Coast. James Renwick derived the form of this building (and that of his previous design, Grace Church) from the King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England, and from Belgian and Dutch town halls. The Free Academy rapidly outgrew its original space of one hundred and twenty-five feet by eighty feet by expanding to the east and south. After the College of the City of New York (renamed in 1866) moved to its new quarters in Hamilton Heights, the old building served as the home of students in the preparatory classes. It served as the commerce school of the College between 1907 and 1927.
The old structure was deemed unsafe for further occupancy in 1927 and was demolished to make way for the building at 17 Lexington Avenue designed by Thompson, Holmes and Converse. The cornerstone was laid in 1929 by New York City Mayor James J. Walker and opened for classes for students enrolled in the City College School of Business in 1930. The building is presently occupied by the faculty, staff and students of the Bernard M. Baruch College, which became a separate senior college of CUNY in 1968.
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