The Builder of the Statue of Liberty
David H. King, Jr. “had general charge from the laying of the first stone of the pedestal to the driving of the last rivet” at the Statue of Liberty, according to the Engineering News and American Contract Journal of November 1886. However, there is not a great deal of information in our ranger presentations or in the Statue of Liberty museum concerning Mr. King.
His name is a one-line mention on a single plaque in the museum. This plaque lists those responsible for the building of the pedestal, beginning with mem-bers of the American Committee and concluding with these three men: Richard M. Hunt, Architect; Charles P. Stone, Engineer in Charge; and David H. King, Jr., Builder.
On Saturday, August 7, 2005, a gentleman named Bill Flagg visited Liberty Island from his home outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Accompanying him were sons Dean and Chris and wife Karen, who is putting together the family genealogy. Bill’s great-grandfather was David King. King’s daughter Dorothy was Bill’s grandmother.
Bill wanted to show the boys some of Mr. King’s buildings and structures. Of course, he started with King’s most famous accomplishments, the building of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal and the erecting of the statue itself. The family then went on to New York City and continued their visit to other King “monuments.”
Another illustrious construction of King’s was the Washington Arch in Washington Square Park. For the 1889 centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as President of the United States, a wooden memorial arch was constructed in Washington Square. Designed by Stanford White and built by King, this arch proved so popular at the celebrations that a marble version was commissioned. The 77-foot final version of the Washington Arch was dedicated in May 1895. The pier sculptures of Washington as general and president were added in 1916 and 1918 respectively.
Some of David King’s other better-known build-ings are:
- The original Madison Square Garden (also done with Stanford White’s firm)
- The Cathedral of St. John the Divine (whose cornerstone King placed in 1892)
- The Cornelius Vanderbilt residence
- Strivers Row in the St. Nicholas Historic District in Harlem
- The New York Times Building (now One Times Square)
- The New York Herald Building
- The Equitable Life Assurance Building
- The Long Island Historical Society
- The Hamilton Club in Brooklyn
- The Mills Building (at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets)
- The Renaissance Hotel
- The Knickerbocker Club
- The Manhattan Club
- The Manhattan Opera House
- The Manhattan Athletic Club
- The U.S. Trust Building
- The Bank of America Building
- The Peninsula at Premium Point
- Premium Point Park
King died on April 20, 1916 and rests in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
From “Keepers of the Flame”, August 2005
A Recent Note and Update from Mrs. Flagg – June 19, 2012
Buildings/structures built by David H. King, Jr. Master Builder (b.1850, d.1916) prepared by Karen S. Flagg (wife of Great Grandson William D. Flagg)
(incomplete chronological list June 2012)
Coryell Apartment House 21 East 21st St. NYC NY 1878 Architect Bruce Price ( King and Price names are entered on date stone!).
The Long Island Historical Society 128 Pierrepont St Brooklyn 1880 Architect: George B. Post (currently Brooklyn Historical Society) see NY Times article Sept 12, 1880.
The Darius Ogden Mills Residence 634 Fifth Ave NYC (between 50th & 51st) structural alterations 1880-1881 Architect: Charles W. Clinton.
81 White St. Store and loft between Lafayette St and Cortlandt Alley (southside) (now part of Tribeca Historic District) 1881 Architect Charles C. Haight, owner Stephen L. Hopkins 5 story masonry with cast iron. Tax map Block/Lot 172/11 in part.
The Mills Building Broad and Wall Sts. and Exchange Place 10 stories 1882 Architect George B. Post (NYT article 2-3-1882)
The Hamilton Club (Brooklyn) Clinton and Romsen Streets Brooklyn Heights 1882.
The Equitable Life Assurance Bldg 1882 Architect: George B. Post
The Mills Building Broad and Wall Sts. and Exchange Place 10 stories 1882 Architect George B. Post (NYT article 2-3-1882).
The Peninsula at Premium Point, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, NY 1889 Architect: Stanford White. Premium Point Park 1882-1889 (Incorporated by King in 1882 as Premium Point Co.)
Randolph Company Apartment Bldg- 12 and 14 W. 18th St. between 5th and 6th Aves., 1884 plans for this 8 story apartment bldg drawn by David H. King and H. Edgar Hartwell and Co. Mr E. Francis Hyde, Pres. Of Randolph Co see article Sept. 7,1910 Tribune.
The Statue of The Liberty Pedestal (at cost) 1884 Architect: Richard Morris Hunt.
300 to 308 W. 83rd St. Architect McKim, Meade and White Built by and for David H. King, Jr.1885 demolished 1923 Architecturally, the area west of Broadway in the West 70s and West 80s developed a distinctive “Dutch” character with the construction of two groups of houses in 1885-86 by Frederick B. White and McKim, Mead & White for David h. King, Jr (exerpt from NYC.gov Landmarks preservation Commission regarding Grammar School #9)
The Statue of Liberty (erected at cost not to exceed $10,000) 1886 Artist: Bartoldi.
The Times Bldg 41 Park Row NYC 1889 George B. Post Architect, NYC Landmark Building was constructed around the core of the existing building. 13 stories.
The Washington Arch (original and replacement) Washington Square, NYC (at cost) 1889 and 1895 Architect : Stanford White.
Collis Potter Huntington House 57th at Fifth Ave NY (s1889-c1896) Architect: George B. Post.
Madison Square Garden 1890 (Tower 1891)Architect: Stanford White (King paid for half the tower to assure it would be completed. His son Van was the first to climb to the top upon opening)
King Model Homes /Strivers Row/ St Nicholas Historic District 138th and 139th NYC 1891 4 Architects: Stanford White, Clarence S. Luce, James Brown Lord and Bruce Price
The Renaissance Hotel W. 43rd St. NYC (an attached residence was 512 Fifth Av) 1891 Architect: Clarence S. Luce (built and owned by King Jr., his residence until death) (for some time now owned by The Unification Church) see Lost NYC storefronts 2009
Cathedral of St John the Divine 1892 Architect: Heins & LaFarge 110th at Morningside (placed cornerstone 12-17-1892, walked in procession with architects)
Lawyers Title Insurance Co Maiden lane between Nassau and Williams Sts Architect C. Haight abt 1892 12 stories built by King (see Kings Handbook of NY 1893)
The Bowery Savings Bank 130 Bowery (Bowery and Grand, NYC) 1893-1895 Architect: Stanford White NYC Landmark since 1966, National Register of Historic Places. Currently used as event space “Capitale”
The Cornelius Vanderbilt II Residence 57th and Fifth Ave, Architect George B.Post, started March1 1892 and completed February 1894. See Tribune article Sept. 13, 1899 and this: Because Vanderbilt wanted his home finished as quickly as possible – giving the builder, David H. King, Jr., 18 months to complete it – 600 workmen were employed, sometimes working around the clock “under powerful electric lights.” Thousands of people watched the construction for a year and a half with what The New York Times called “pardonable curiosity and instinctive local pride.”On November 26, 1893 The Times excitedly reported on the near-completion of the mansion. Calling it “the finest private residence in America,” the newspaper reported “It is a structure that would command admiration in any land of palaces and castles grand, for in its design, its noble proportions, and its artistic finish it is, in reality, a palace.” And a palace it was.
The Metropolitan Club 60th and Fifth Ave NYC 1894 Architect: Stanford White
The Manhatten Life Building– Architect, George B. Post, early “skyscraper” 1894? Broadway and New St. 206’ tall, 77’w and 106’ deep. Raritan Hollow and Pourous Brick Co. Demolished 1930
“Whitehall” on Catherine St Newport, RI 1895 (personal summer residence)
“Chichota Cottage” Jekyll Island, GA 1897 (personal use Architect suspected to be Stanford White who had visited)(foundation remains a National Landmark) Howard & Cauldwell project (see John Galen Howard collections at Berkley Univ)
68 Jane St a 7 story Factory and loft designed and built by King, Jr. for Helen M. Cavarello in 1897 “Although not in character with the residences in the area, this is an unusually fine commercial structure and set a standard for this area which was never surpassed.” [Its entranceway now is on Greenwich Street.]
(see Jane Street History.com)
Stay tuned for the dates and details on these following:
The Herald Herald Square NYC Architect: Stanford White
The Knickerbocker Club
The Manhatten Club
The Manhatten Opera House now Manhatten Center Studios 1906 34th between 8th and 9th Aves (still verifying if this is the original King structure)
The Manhatten Athletic Club
The US Trust Bldg
Bank of America
Yonkers Development at Van Courtland Park 700+ lots remained open until his death.
Thank you, Mrs. Flagg