Soho and Tribeca are both known for their cast-iron structures, and there are many significant ones still standing (or barely standing). Yet according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, one in particular stands as the most important 19th-century commercial structure: the Cary Building.
Originally built on a mid-block through lot, the Cary has ornate fronts at both 105-107 Chambers Street and 89-91 Reade Street. However, the widening of Church Street in 1920 left the unadorned brick side wall exposed. Its historic significance, though, is the role it played in establishing the cast-iron style, since it was one of the first made by D.B Badger’s Architectural Iron Works, which later became the most influential foundry in New York. The building was completed in 1857, and the template for the façade appeared in the foundry’s 1865 catalogue, resulting in numerous reproductions throughout the city.
Though Badger’s catalogue credits the architecture firm of King & Kellum with designing the building, it may have been Badger's in-house architect George H. Johnson designed the façade. The façades on Reade and Chambers are almost identical, though there is now a fire escape on the Reade Street side and the large archway on Chambers that served as the main entrance also distinguishes between the two.
The second through fifth stories each have paired columns that frame arched windows, though the Corinthian capitals on Reade Street are now missing, and the effect is a replica of the Italianate palazzo style.
The top floor windows also differ slightly in that they frame a smaller double-arched window within, leaving a wedge of window above and between. Lastly, the cornice on each side has a small central pediment that carries a cartouche with the building and store name. It is these qualities, as well as its unquestioned charm gurantee its status as a City Landmark (1982) and a National Register of Historic Places (1983).