Monday, 20 May 2013

Art Deco London : 51-54 Gracechurch Street

Almost opposite the building I am currently working in is another fine example of Art Deco architecture. It's modest size and location, next to a complex and busy road junction, perhaps causes it to be ignored among other buildings of the same period in the city, such as nearby Adelaide House mentioned in an earlier post. However, on closer inspection it reveals a wealth of interesting Art Deco ornamentation that possibly warrants an elevation in it's status and interest.


51-54 Gracechurch Street, City of London
51-54 Gracechurch Street, London.

Despite much Googling, inspection of the outside of the structure and even inquiring with the building's reception desk, I could find no information about it's history.
So, having reached a dead end, I decided to contact the planning department of the City of London, in the hope that they would not be too busy to answer my trivial questions and after a few days of waiting, they very helpfully provided the information I was after and suggested some additional references that could be helpful in the future.

51-54 Gracechurch Street, City of London
51-54 Gracechurch Street, West Elevation
From the information provided the City of London, the architect was one Leo Sylvester Sullivan (1878-1964), and the date of construction circa 1928-30.  This architect is also responsible for other better known, listed buildings in the City and West-End (future posts to come) as well as many civic projects around the country.  He also attended school with Sir Winston Churchill in the 1900s.

The building sits 8 storeys high and 9 bays wide and it likely to steel framed with the front clad in Portland stone.  The nine bays are separated by ribbed piers with the outer four piers emboldened to provide vertical framing of the frontage.  The metal window aprons  were once ornamented but have been unsympathetically replaced, along with the windows at some point, which is likely the cause of it's lack of listed status.


51-54 Gracechurch Street in 1974. Copyright City of London - Collage project

A carved pediment above the ground floor has a parallel zig-zag or chevron dancette with a chain-like pattern above.  This chevron pattern is repeated around the entrances and also the north-side elevation of the building.  At the top of the stone facade and between the fifth and sixth floors are two rows of carved heads.  Each appears to be unique, but they are a little too high to observe with my phone's camera.



One interesting detail is the parallel chevron dancettes framing the door ways feature convex and concave half-round carvings.

The north side and rear of the building is accessible via Talbot Court.  The side appears to be clad in terracotta with the lower windows and entrances framed again with chevron moldings and also beak-head stops.

Beak-head stops


Terracotta moldings
Finally, the rear of the building is stepped down to meet the roof heights of neighbouring properties.


Rear North-side elevation.

That about wraps things up for this building.  I may write more about Leo Sylvester Sullivan's other buildings in my immediate area as I photograph and research them.  

His other buildings that I know of so far are...

1 comment :

  1. Hello, great post. I am interested in the architect (Leo Sullivan, he is my great uncle). he was at school at some point with Churchill but not in the 1900's (he was born in 1878). Churchill was four years older. Any information about him would be gratefully received.

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