Butterfield House, completed in 1962 as a 102-unit residential cooperative, is generally considered to be one of the most important and most beautiful Post World War II apartment houses in the city.
Designed by William J. Conklin and James S. Rossant of the architectural firm of Mayer, Whittlesey & Glass, the through-block apartment house consists of two wings connected by a glass-walled passage through a central landscaped yard. At Butterfield House, the firm used new modern materials and a clearly Modern aesthetic to create a fascinating work.
The West 12th Street building has an elevation of seven stories with the ground floor loggia serving as the lobby entrance. The bulk of the apartments are located in the larger West 13th Street building which has 12 stories plus a penthouse. Its brown-brick facades are variegated allowing for interesting apartment layouts and, in some cases, long views up and down the streets. Steel frame windows create a distinctive and varied pattern on the West 12th and 13th Street elevations especially through the use of large bay windows.
The significance of the building was recognized at the time of its construction and ever since architects and urban planners have considered it a model of new construction in an historic environment. When the building was completed in 1962, Real Estate Forum described it as “unique among all the city’s hundreds of new apartment structures.” The following year, the Municipal Art Society awarded a certificate of merit to Mayer, Whittlesey & Glass for Butterfield House and the firm’s “contributions to the beauty of the city.” Paul Goldberger, writing in The New York Times in 1979, included Butterfield House in his list of the 10 “Top Postwar Apartment Buildings.”
The buiding is named after General Daniel Butterfield, a Union officer during the Civil War and the individual credited for revising and popularizing Taps, whose home was on the site of the current 12th Street building.
Click to download "Notes on the Butterfield House" by its architect William J. Conklin.