Lost New York: A Doge’s Palace in Manhattan

National Academy of Design New York
The National Academy of Design in New York in 1894 (American Architect and Building News)

New York used to have something like its own Doge’s Palace. The headquarters of what was then the National Academy of Design, now called the National Academy Museum and School, was housed in 1865 in a Venetian Gothic-style building designed by Peter Bonnett Wight.

The lavish building had cost around $200,000, or $2.8 million in today’s money. The ground floor held offices and janitorial accommodations. On the first floor were exhibitions spaces, lecture halls and class rooms. The second floor held galleries and studios.

The reviews were ecstatic. Harper’s Weekly called it “a beautiful Temple of Art.” The Nation instantly proclaimed the building “the most beautiful work of architectural art in America.” The New York Times predicted it would auger in a Gothic renaissance in American architecture.

By the turn of the century, the building had become too small for the Academy, which was forced to relocate. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company bought the property and had it demolished to make room for a office tower.

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