History

Situated within Léman Manhattan Preparatory School in the Financial District, New York City’s oldest and most historic neighborhood, the Broad Street Ballroom’s classically inspired interior presents an elegant old New York society experience.

 

Before there was downtown, there was the harbor, which made this part of New York City the prime location for a bustling commerce center. Many of New York’s historic firsts nestle between high-rises just a block or two in any direction. Just a few include New York’s first park, Bowling Green; New York’s oldest church, Trinity Church; and City Hall Park, where the Declaration of Independence had its first public reading to George Washington and the Continental Army.

Even Broad Street, which was once the Broad Canal, was the landing of the first ferry between Manhattan and Brooklyn and once served as the primary mode of transporting produce downtown, delivered by canoe-handling native Americans from upper Manhattan. The peculiar brickwork in the center of the street, right at the entrance of the Broad Street Ballroom, describes where the canal once flowed.

The building itself is hardly less saturated in history, though more recent history, due to the Great Fire of 1835.

41 Broad was built in 1928 as the Lee, Higginson, & Company Bank Building. Cross & Cross architectural firm — known as Old Society New York’s architects of choice — designed it in an austere, late 1920’s Classical Revival style, an aesthetic that defined New York City both here and in other of their designs, including 20 Exchange Place, The Guggenheim Museum, and Columbia University Church of Notre Dame.

Upon completion, the bank was widely regarded as the most beautiful building in Lower Manhattan. Unfortunately, the 1929 stock market crash quickly put the bank out of business.

Decorative sculptures embellish the facade, all designed and carved by Leo Friedlander, whose work includes sculptures on Washington Memorial Arch in Valley Forge, PA, sculptures on Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington D.C., and several sculptures held in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Since 2005, the building has been home to Léman Manhattan Preparatory School, which uses the Ballroom as a community space for artistic performances and school celebrations.

Lower Manhattan is the fastest-growing residential neighborhood in the city. Once just a busy workweek business hub, it’s now family-friendly, seven-days-a-week community, highly international and surrounded by cultural institutions that are breathing new life into the area.

Léman’s setting near the New York Harbor allows students to live the city’s rich history while reminding them of the larger world, which is part of Léman’s mission: to foster global citizens.

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