160 Bleecker Street, New York City
An exterior view of Atrium
|Developer||Darius Ogden Mills|
|Number of Units||189|
|Number of Floors||10|
|Type of Roof||IRMA|
|Distance to Public Transit||Less than one block|
|Region||New York City|
|Municipality||New York City|
|Title of Land||Cooperative|
The Atrium, which was originally known as Mills House No. 1, was designed by Ernest Flagg and built by Darius Ogden Mills in 1896. Mills, a banker and philanthropist, funded the construction of the building, which served as a hostel for poor and working-class men. Mills' aim was to improve the dreary housing situation for the less fortunate in New York at the time.
This area of New York city was not always so down-trodden. In the mid-1800s this block was the location of 6 luxury homes for some of New York's most wealthy and influential people, including Dr. Valentine Mott, Francis Depau and Alexander Turney Stewart. Yet by the 1870s, the trends of the every expanding city changed and the neighbourhood lost its appeal. The wealthy residents moved to other high-end communities and Bleecker street became a haven for the impoverished. By the 1890s the property was purchased by Mills and the 6 original houses were demolished. Mills House No. 1 was then built and served as a hostel for the poor for 100 years.
In 1976 the building was transformed into an apartment complex and the interior was completely renovated. In the mid 1980's the building was converted into a cooperative. The building's name was changed to Atrium, due to the air shafts that now act as sky-lighted courtyards within the structure. Atrium now features 189 luxury suites, while maintaining an elegant pre-war facade of light brick and fine stone-work.
Occupying the entire block on Bleecker street, between Sullivan and Thompson streets, the Atrium is right in the heart of Greenwich Village. With coffee houses reminiscent of the 1920s bohemian movement and music venues surviving from the folk music revival of the 1950s and 60s, Greenwich Village is teeming with culture.
Today, Bleecker street is most known as the night club district of Greenwich Village. The music venue Cafe Wha? is located just a short distance away and once played host to such artists as Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Kool & the Gang, Richard Pryor, and Bill Cosby. The famous shopping district of SoHo is just blocks away, as are a host of renowned bistros, cafes and restaurants. Washington Square Park, Passannante Park and New York University are located just two blocks away. With a walk score of 100, most errands can be done without the need for a car. If transport is required, the Atrium also lands a 100 transit score, with 51 nearby transit routes, including 30 bus and 21 rail options. 
The Atrium was designed by architect Ernest Flagg in the late 1800's for banker and philanthropist Darius Ogden Mills. The brick building was completed in 1896 and opened in 1897. The building, originally called Mills House No. 1, was the first of 3 such hostels that Mills would build. Mills funded construction to accommodate the ever increasing amount of immigrants flooding into the city. The building housed over 1500 working-class men at a time, with a degree of comfort and sanitation unparalleled in its day. 
Atrium was built in the French Beaux-Arts style of architecture, which was widely popular in the United States from 1880-1920. Flagg learned his trade as a young man studying at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Some notable characteristics of this style are flat-roofs, rusticated stonework, and arched windows and doorways. More flourish examples included statues, bas-relief, mosaics and other artistic forms. 
Flagg designed the building with two air shafts in the center measuring 50 feet by 50 feet, running from the ground floor to the roof and capped with sky lights. This allowed for greater air flow and natural light, in accordance with the 1879 Tenement House Law. . Indeed, Flagg throughout his life was an advocate for higher building standards focusing primarily on fire-proof construction, air circulation, and access to natural light.
The 10 storey building had over 1500 rooms, most 5 feet by 7 feet with a one foot gap at the top of the walls to improve air circulation. Each room was provided with a bed, hair mattress and feather pillow, as well as a clothes rack and a chair. Each floor had 4 toilets and 6 basins to accommodate 182 men. There were also many social rooms throughout the building to encourage the men to not go to bars and to keep out of trouble.
In the mid 1970s, the building was repurposed into an apartment complex and underwent a complete interior renovation. By the mid 1980s the building became a cooperative.
Though completely gutted and redesigned within, the exterior of the building remains much as it did over 100 years ago. Featuring 189 units today, the Atrium holds an old world charm with modern day luxury. Vaulted post and beam ceilings, arched windows and original brick walls compliment modern day appliances and updated hardwood flooring.
Layout and Features
The Atrium features 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites with bright, arched windows and high ceilings. Hardwood flooring is standard in all units, some with older, re-finished wood and others with more modern, up-dated hardwood. Many units feature exposed beam ceilings and original brick walls, giving the suites a pre-war charm. Several suites on the upper levels of the building have two floors, with the living area below, and loft-like bedrooms with vaulted ceilings above.
Most kitchens are on the smaller side, inhabiting nooks of the suite. Yet certain suites feature open concept kitchens. Many owners have also updated their kitchens with stainless steel appliances. Bathrooms are on the small side as well, yet still feature a full bathtub and shower combo. There is no in-suite laundry, yet each floor of the building has its own shared laundry room.
There are several floor plans available for viewing. Here is a small sample.
The Atrium features a 24 hour doorman service, as well as a live-in building manager. Each floor has its own laundry room and there are 3 elevators in the building. Parking at the Atrium is limited to the street and there are no gym or fitness facilities.
Bylaws at Atrium are as follows:
- Pets are welcome in the building.
- The are no age restrictions.
- Rentals are allowed in the building, including short-term rentals for visiting tourists.
Seeing that the Atrium is over 100 years old and was retrofitted in the mid 1980s, the building offers little in the way of modern day sustainability. Many owners at the Atrium have renovated their suites, upgrading the old appliances with more energy-efficient machines. Being located in the middle of Greenwich Village allows for most errands to be done without the use of a vehicle, reducing carbon emissions.
- The site of Mills House No. 1 used to be known as Depau Row and housed 6 high-end homes. Francis Depau was a shipping-entrepreneur from France who settled in America in the early 1800s. After living in South Carolina for several years, Depau eventually settled in New York. By 1840, he had built the 6 luxurious homes between Sullivan and Thompson Streets on what would become known as Depau Row. Of the six homes, Depau occupied one of them and his children and in-laws three more. In 1850, one of the corner lots was purchased by department store magnate, A.T. Stewart.
- Although a symbol of wealth and power when built, by the 1870s the neighbourhood had fallen into squalor and most of the wealthy had moved to more up and coming places in New York.
- In 1848, Darius Ogden Mills left New York City, at the age of 23, to try his hand at gold mining. When the venture did not work out for him, he instead became a shopkeeper, supplying goods for miners. After making a considerable profit his first year, Mills made a trip back to New York to purchase a large safe and brought it back to California with him. Mills began storing gold and other valuables for the local miners in his safe and shortly after, opened his first bank, The Bank of D.O. Mills.
- By 1864, The Bank of California, opened with Mills as its president. Mills also held a large stake in the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, which transported much of the Californian gold to processing plants.
- After his retirement, Mills returned to New York city and built 3 hostels for working-class men, one of which was Mills House No 1. The other two, Mills House No 2 and Mills House No 3, were located on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and 485 Seventh Avenue, New York City.
- Upon his death by heart attack in 1910, Mills was worth $36,227,391.
- Walk score
- New York Times
- Wikipedia - Beaux-Arts
- New York Times
- Burlingame Founding Families
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