Doelger Building

1491 Third Avenue
George Dress

This unusual Art Deco music hall is distinguished by its wonderful terra-cotta ornament, which hints at the building’s original use with musical lyre motifs in the spandrels between the second- and third-story windows. According to city permits, the ground floor originally contained stores and a cabaret, the second and fourth stories offices, and the third floor a “hall for public assembly.” One of its earliest tenants was the Mayo Ballrooms (named after the Irish county), which advertised itself as “New York’s Most Beautiful Irish-American Ballroom.” (Its interior was divided into Irish and American sections by a folding partition that would be thrown open at the end of the evening to let everyone mingle and enjoy each other’s music.)  The building was commissioned by Peter Doelger, Inc., a real estate company that evolved from one of New York’s older German brewing operations. A few doors up, in front of 1501 Third Avenue, is one of New York’s landmark street clocks, manufactured by the E. Howard Clock Company and designed to resemble a giant pocket watch, likely an advertisement for the pawnbroker who occupied the adjacent storefront.