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Modern Furniture Companies on Broadway: A Centuries-Old Tradition

SoHo Broadway History: Looking back at the Globe Wernicke Building at 451 Broadway

The Globe-Wernicke building, located at 451 Broadway, was built on December 10th, 1869 and designed by acclaimed architect, John B. Snook. The original owner of 451 Broadway was George Lorillard of the Lorillard Estate—a wealthy family with ties to the Tobacco industry. Snook would go on to design The Grand Central Depot two years later in 1871. The building is easily identified today by the decorative globe logo featured at the top of the building.

451 Broadway is a designated building in the SoHo Historic District. The 1973 SoHo Cast Iron Historic District Designation Report includes a description of the original facade. The structure was originally built of iron and brick and only five stories tall. The facade was constructed in a ashlar stone pattern.

In 1916, Globe-Wernicke, a popular American furniture company, moved into 451 Broadway. That same year, the company completed renovations and alterations to the building. The building is now six stories tall, with a completely different facade inspired by Edwardian design principles. The new facade is constructed in white terra-cotta tiles, complete with a terra-cotta globe logo along with a plaque embellished with the initials G-W. These design elements have been preserved all these years later, a testament to the success of the historic preservation efforts here in SoHo.

Famous for their modular furniture design, Globe-Wernicke brought modern innovation and craftsmanship to the neighborhood. Globe-Wernicke refined the concept of modular furniture with its elastic bookcases, which feature unique design capabilities to expand or shrink in height with the addition or removal of sections. Globe-Wernicke marketed their elastic bookcases as “barrister bookcases” in reference to lawyers and their valuable law books. A Globe-Wernicke Barrister Bookcase sells for over $2,000.00 today on sites like 1stDibs.

More than a century later, 451 Broadway has returned to its American furniture roots. CB2, the modern furniture and decor company, occupies the ground floor of the building.

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