3. Coffered Ceilings of the West Hall

Not wanting his building to succumb to fire like many wooden buildings in Lower Manhattan had in the 19th century, Woolworth took every precaution to make his skyscraper virtually fireproof. To that end, hardly any wood at all was used in the construction of the steel-framed building, not even in its ornate coffered ceilings. Though the ceilings at the west end of the lobby like painted wood, as most coffered ceilings traditionally are, they are actually made of plaster. Unlike wood, plaster does not burn. The ceiling is ringed with Roman style profiles, though the identities of the figures are unknown.

Coffered ceilings can be found throughout the Woolworth building and with the upper floors of building being turned into luxury condos, some are being given new life. The coffered ceiling of Frank Woolworth’s 40th floor private office has been removed, restored and relocated to the private lobby for the Woolworth residences at 2 Park Place. According to Forbes, each coffer was cleaned with a cocktail of baby shampoo and seaweed and reinforced with Kevlar.

Learn more about the architecture of the Woolworth Building and see the stunning ceilings for yourself on an upcoming Special Access Tour. You can also join a VIP Tour of the building with architect Cass Gilbert’s great-granddaughter!

Insider Tour of the Woolworth Building

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