“The Kings County Savings Bank is an outstanding example of French Second Empire architecture, displaying a wealth of ornament and diverse architectural elements. A business building of imposing grandeur, the Kings County Savings Bank "represents a period of conspicuous display in which it was not considered vulgar, at least by the people in power, to boast openly of one's wealth. From its scale and general character there is nothing , on the outside, that would distinguish the Kings County Savings Bank from a millionaires mansion." (from History preserved: New York City landmarks & historic districts, Harmon H. Gladstone & Martha Dalyrmple, Simon & Schuster, 1974).
The Kings County Savings Bank building, built in 1867, it is on the National Register of Historic Places and was the seventh building to be landmarked in New York City. The location of the building is one of New York’s most historically significant areas.
The Kings County Savings Bank Building was built to be a savings bank on the first floor. On the second floor it was a ceremonial room. The third floor was a high society ball room. Since late 1996 it has been used as the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (WAH Center) a not for profit art center.
The WAH Center is fulfilling one of the WAH Center’s mission to preserve historical building and make it a functional part of the international cultural community.
In doing so, we are pleased to note that we are helping to fulfill the objectives in the New York State Historic Preservation Plan by “promoting preservation as a catalyst for economic development and tourism,” and by “integrating historic preservation into the planning process through close coordination among federal, state, regional and municipal agencies,” and by “fostering pride in community.”
A major hurricane in FY 2000 blew off a board that was rotting on the ancient structure of the clock tower. Thanks to the intervention of Ken Fisher, our former city councilman, we received emergency grants (nearly $60,000) from the New York City Landmark Commission and the New York City Landmark Conservancy who worked together on the project.
Note original tile designs after the dirt and paint were cleaned off.
It was necessary to remove a preexisting landmark violation of a billboard sign on the west side of the mansard roof. At the same time we cleaned a century of accumulated dirt on the remainder of the mansard roof and repaired the sagging cornice and rotting pieces of dormer windows, etc. This was done by a kind grant from a private individual ($50,000), who wished to remain anonymous.
Note that the cleaning revealed a beautiful colorful design of the tiles that included the letters KCSB (Kings County Savings Bank).
In 2003 our insurance company required that we install a fire escape. Thanks to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Council Woman Diana Reyna, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs gave the WAH Center a grant of $100,000 in FY 2004, which we used for this project. Approvals from several city agencies were required, including:
Thanks to the good grace of city officials and their appreciation of the work of the WAH Center, it has all been achieved, after three years of patience.
* The Mansard roof cleaning and repair to the cornice have indeed made the building look better and more secure. However, it was noted this summer 2007 that the cornice on the east side of the building needs further structural repair. And the brick walls on the north and east walls need pointing or stuccoing
Also, We are trying to raise funds by renting the first floor. Therefore the main entrance front door on Broadway will not be available for use by the art center, which means that we will be able to use only the side entrance on Bedford Avenue.