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A Look Back at SoHo’s Broadway: Fashion, Food and Film at 462 Broadway

The Mills & Gibb Building from King 1893

As the residential and commercial communities on and around the Broadway corridor struggle to determine what 462 Broadway’s latest incarnation will be, I thought it might be interesting to look at the building’s past. Also known as the Mills & Gibb Building, 462 Broadway (at the northeast corner of Grand Street running to Crosby) has a long history on Broadway dating back to the early-19th century.

In 1828, this corner was the site of an elegant residence that later became known as Broadway House and was Whig Headquarters for many years. It then became headquarters for Brooks Brothers, the company that introduced the seersucker suit, the ready-to-wear suit, and the button-down collar.

The building was demolished and the massive cast iron French Renaissance-style building that stands there today was built in 1879 by architect John Correja for George Bliss and J. Cossitt as a commercial palace for Mills & Gibb, a U.S. importing company that specialized in lace, linen and dry goods. Mills & Gibb remained in the building until 1910, when the company moved their business further uptown.

L'Ecole Restaurant and the French Culinary Institute at 462 Broadway (photo: thebluecollarfoodie.com)

L’Ecole Restaurant and the French Culinary Institute at 462 Broadway (photo: thebluecollarfoodie.com)

The history of the building gets a little murky until in 1984 by Dorothy Cann Hamilton, a native New Yorker, founded The French Culinary Institute (FCI), a cooking school, and L’Ecole, a restaurant, on the site, both of which became overnight successes. FCI boasts world class faculty including Chef Alain Sailhac of Le Cirque and Chef Andre Soltner of Lutece. High-profile alumni include Chef David Chang of Momofuku, Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Chef Wylie Dufresne of wd-50, to name only a few. FCI, now part of the International Culinary Center (ICC), is still in the building, although its restaurant on the ground floor, closed 2015.

Women_Make_Movies_logo462 Broadway was also once home to Women Make Movies, which was established in 1972 to address the under representation and misrepresentation of women in the media industry. Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women.

The building also once housed the offices of Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects (LHPA), who restored, renovated and designed additions to major historic landmarks such as the Plaza Hotel, Trinity Church, Grand Central Terminal, Saks Fifth Avenue and St. James’ Church and designed and restored many New York City subway stations, such as the Fulton Street Transit Center, Bleecker Street Station, East 180th Street Station, Union Square Station, Lincoln Center Station, and Dekalb Avenue Station.

Bringing 462 Broadway into the digital age, The Knot, a leading wedding resource that connects couples with products, services and local wedding professionals they need to plan their wedding, had offices here until recently.

These are only a few of the many many past inhabitants of the Mills & Gibb building. 462 Broadway, like most buildings along the Broadway corridor, has a long history of tenants who have been major players in the cultural and political landscape of New York City.

Yukie Ohta is founder of The SoHo Memory Project 

Read more from the Look Back at SoHo Broadway Series by Yukie Ohta 

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