The SoHo Broadway corridor has several buildings associated with specific historic uses and businesses such as the Silk Exchange Building and the Scholastic building; this month’s focus, 495 Broadway, is no exception. The New Era Building is an Art Nouveau commercial loft building between Spring and Broome Street that was originally intended for the New Era Printing Company. It was built in 1893 and designed by Alfred Zucker, with the original owner being Augustus D. Julliard, as seen in the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District Designation Report:
The New Era Building is one of the earliest Art Nouveau buildings in Manhattan still standing. The building has many unique design elements of brick and masonry: the lower-level features four squat rounded Doric columns, which seem to support three vertical rows of large windows, separated by brickwork and iron ornamentation. All of this culminates in three large arches at the sixth floor, and the whole building features a two-story copper-fronted mansard roof, giving the entire structure a feel reminiscent of Parisian architecture.
Though initially built for New Era Printing, the building was quickly occupied by Butler Brothers company, an early mail-order business, and in 1927 they began franchising the Ben Franklin Stores. However, on December 29, 1927, a fire broke out in the building causing a partial collapse of eight floors. From 1994-2011, the Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art New York occupied the third-floor loft before moving to their current location on Wooster Street. For many visiting the neighborhood, the New Era Building is recognized as the current location of a Levi’s store.