Historic Structures

Building Description Hahne and Company Department Store, Newark New Jersey

The Hahne and Company department store, located at 609 Broad Street, across from the western edge of Military Park, is a 4 story, 13 bay, brick and stone, eclectic, corner commercial building. The trapezoidal-plan building is horizontally divided into three parts, with a stone-clad basement, a two story brick body and a fenestrated attic.

The department store occupies a corner site at the intersection of Broad and New Streets, and consequently has two principal elevations. The Halsey Street elevation is at the rear of the store and forms the service entrance and loading areas.

The thirteen bay, four story, symmetrically designed facade, is characterized by a tri-partite division of spaces into base, body and attic. The base of the building is formed by the ground floor of shop windows, entrances and pilasters. The panelled corner pilasters frame the elevation. These are matched by slightly narrower versions on either side of the centrally located main entrance. The six bays flanking the entrance are divided by narrow pilaster strips. Each bay features a large window display area surmounted by a fixed transom divided into five lights. The second bays from the south and the north are secondary entrances with the primary entrance in the middle bay. Except for the transoms, all of the entrances and display windows are mid-20th century replacements.

The ground floor is separated from the rest of the building by a simple entablature consisting of an architrave (fascia, cyma reversa and fillet), blank frieze and cornice (cyma reversa, fillet, corona and cyma recta). The blank frieze is interrupted by the capitals of the corner and entrance-flanking pilasters. These panelled pilasters, which feature a patera immediately below a water leaf-enriched cyma reversa, are surmounted by a cartouche-like capital with a central raised circular panel with the letter "H" flanked by scrolls with botanical ornaments. Behind the cartouche is an eggand- dart enriched ovolo.

The body of the facade is composed of the second and third floors, which are vertically spanned by colossal brick pilasters with white glazed brick bases and capitals. Each of the thirteen bays formed by the pilasters consists of paired wood sash windows divided by brick pilaster strips on white glazed brick bases and spanned at the lintel level by a narrow stone entablature. The only exception is above the main entrance bay, where there are four windows and no central colossal pilaster. The two part windows consist of a fixed, single pane transom, and a moveable two pane lower sash. Between the second and third floors are brick spandrels with an inset rectangular enframement made from glazed brick headers. The two spandrels over the main entrance are further ornament with a diamond motif at the center.

At the top of the third floor windows, is a somewhat larger entablature than that seen between the second and third floors. This stone entablature serves a dual purpose: as a lintel belt course for the third floor and as an architrave for the white, glazed brick capitals of the colossal pilasters. These capitals are topped by a narrow stone belt course which serves as the entablature for the capitals and the sill course for the fourth floor windows. The frieze between these capitals is made up of brick spandrels with inset glazed brick header rectangles.

The fourth floor serves as the classical attic of the building. At this level, the colossal order pilasters from below become paired pilasters with glazed, white brick bases, and scrolled bracket capitals. The bays are composed of three, one-overone, wood sash windows separated by brick pilaster strips with glazed brick bases and scrolled bracket capitals. Above each window is a modillion inserted as a keystone. The scrolled brackets support a simple stone cornice (double fascia and cyma recta).

Above the cornice is a brick parapet composed of piers extending from the pilasters below, alternating with panels containing stone-enframed oculi surrounded by a rectangular belt of glazed brick headers. At the center of the building, above the main entrance bay is a large, stone, segmentallyarched, broken apex pediment supported by paired brackets and surmounting an engraved tablet bearing the name "Hahne and Co.". The inscribed tablet is also ornamented with a patera and water leaf on either side, with guttae below the paterae, and a scroll encircling the tablet at mid-point. The pediment itself is flanked by scrolls, topped by a palmettelike acroterion set on a wide open scroll and pierced by an open oculus framed with a variety of botanically inspired garlands. The entire parapet is finished with a flat, stone coping. Each of the projecting parapet piers once served as the base of a handled urn holding a flagpole.

The New Street elevation is identical to the Broad Street facade in its ornamental treatment. This elevation is slightly longer (275' as compared to the 250' long Broad Street facade) and is therefore, fifteen bays deep instead of thirteen. Entrances are placed in the middle bay and at the far western bay. The far western bay is sheltered from the weather by a suspended canopy.

The Halsey Street elevation is irregular in composition. When the site was assembled for construction at the end of the 19th century, Hahne was only able to buy approximately 140 feet of frontage on Halsey Street. With time, the company purchased additional lots to the south, demolished the existing rowhouses, and added onto the rear of the store, resulting in a frontage of 200 feet, with the corner of New and Halsey Streets cut out. Consequently, the rear facade of the building consists of seven original bays at the northwest corner, and two, two story masonry elevations extending to the south.

The original Halsey Street elevation reflects the decorative treatment used in the Broad and New Street facades. The ground floor is used for service entrances, elevators and loading docks. The first bay from the northwest corner is open on the ground floor and extends in an easterly direction underneath the second floor to form a porte-cochere. The next two bays are freight elevators. The fourth and fifth bays are pedestrian entrances. The interior three bays are sheltered by a suspended canopy. The entire first floor is unified by a very simple stone entablature with a wide blank freize and minimal mouldings. The second and third floors are united by the use of colossal order pilasters between which are paired windows divided by brick spandrels between floors. The second and third bays from the north are bricked in to provide a background for attached lettering identifying the store. The fourth floor consists of three, sementally arched windows in each bay. The parapet is ornamented with triple groupings of blind segmental arches between each pier.

The first addition to the Halsey Street facade, located adjacent to the south wall of the store, is a 3 story, 3 bay, brick building. Constructed c. 1910, the building is articulated by brick pilasters ending at the third floor lintel level. Above the third floor is a course of brick corbelling and a blank entablature. Panelled sheet metal spandrels separate the paired window groupings at the floor levels. The second addition to the facade, is a three story, irregular bay, brick building with a canopied loading dock and entrance on the first floor and multi-paned, modern windows on the third floor. This addition was constructed probably around 1950 and does not make any attempt to reflect the original architectural treatment of the store.

The north elevation of the Hahne's store, originally faced an alley which served as a lightwell. Here the only ornamentation for the common brick walls consists of the fenestration: seven bays of one-over-one, segmentally-arched triple window groupings, and a simple, belt course entablature between the first floor and the body of the building. At the northeast corner of this elevation, the building skirts around an existing, four story, four bay brick building, and returns to Broad Street, adjacent to the Griffith Building immediately to its north. The first three bays of this facade from Halsey Street are cut away on the first floor to form a commercial porte-cochere.

Exterior alterations are limited to the ground floor level. Due to the Hahne's company policy of staying current with design trends, the store's signage and display windows were continuously updated. The current windows consist of a large single pane set in a vertically and horizontally divided glass surround. The entrance doors and entrance transoms have also been replaced. A large, illuminated, vertical sign proclaiming the store name hangs from the Broad Street facade above the entrance bay.

The building is irregular in plan: a rectangle with its southwest and northeast corners cut out. The Broad Street elevation is 248.71 feet, the New Street elevetion is 273.85 feet, Halsey Street is approximately 214 feet and the alley frontage is 179.75 feet.

The building was entered through five possible entrances: three in the Broad Street facade, and one each in the New Street and Halsey Street facade. Each entrance led into a vestibule and an interior series of revolving doors, except for the New Street employees' entrance which had interior swinging doors. The entrances led directly into the first floor retail area, which occupied the entire, open floor plan, consisting of eight aisles, each 25' wide. Staircases were located close to the entrances, one on either side of the main Broad Street entrance, and one at the New Street and Halsey Street entrance. Elevator banks were also related to the entrances.

The main Broad Street entrance led into a four story "grand court" or atrium, which was 200' long, 35' wide, and 108' from the floor to the glass skylight. The court was spanned by a bridge at each floor level. At the rear of the "grand court" was a marble and onyx soda foundation, 14' high with an ornamental glass top and an Italian marble counter, capable of supplying 150 gallons of soda water an hour, and serving 60 customers at once. Behind the soda fountain was the grand staircase. There was also a "traveling staircase" from the grand court to the second floor; this was Newark's first escalator. Mezzanines were located at the perimeter of the floor. These provided facilities for patrons to relax in easychairs, and "conveniences for ladies who desire to write letters".

During World War II, the skylight at the top of the atrium was painted black as part of the East Coast blackout efforts. Some years later, the openings of the individual floors beneath the skylight were closed, providing additional retail space for the store.

The basement level contains 100,000 square feet of space. At one time it housed a restaurant for 400 people with a kitchen that extended underneath the Broad Street sidewalk. Public facilities also included a men's smoking room. The basement contained the power and electric light plant, as well as the ice plant. There were four boilers of 1,500 horse power and four large dynamos supplying electric light, power and steam heat. The basement also housed the cash room, which was connected to a pneumatic cash system run of brass tubes.

The Hahne and Company department store always prided itself on keeping its facility modern. The ephemeral nature of retailing forced the store into freguent renovation. Consequently, the interior of the building has undergone many alterations throughout the years. By 1918, the soda fountain had been removed, the ornate multi-bulb light fixtures had been replaced with simplified shaded bulbs, the stools along the side counters removed and the central glass enclosed cases under the atrium replaced by open, wooden counters. During World War II, the glass roof of the atrium was blacked out, and in the 1950s, the floors themselves extended to close the atrium and provide more selling space. The elevators and escalator were modernized, and the wrought iron stair railings were boxed in with plywood for a more modern look.

The store closed its doors in 1986, and the building was left vacant. Unfortunately, vandals gained access to the interior and destroyed much of what was left. All of the support columns were torn open for their copper and brass pipes, and all of the mechanical systems were stripped of any valuable metal components. Of the original interior fixtures, the grand staircase, pilasters at the staircase landing, the secondary stairs, and the "grand court" skylight, ceiling and support system remain.