Federal Building, Newark, NJ
The Globe Building, now called the Veterans Administration (VA) Building is located at 20 Washington Place, facing Washington Park in downtown Newark. The building occupies 1/2 block bounded by Washington Street on the west, Washington Place on the north, Halsey Street on the east, and low commercial buildings on the south. The streets are not at right angles; therefore, the east and west sides of the building are slightly off perpendicular. The building has a trapezoidal plan and is six stories tall (with an additional mezzanine floor between the first and second floors at the south side of the building). It rests on a full basement and is topped by a flat roof which is, in turn, obscured by a mansard roof and parapet. An example of the Second Renaissance Revival style, the first, mezzanine, and second floors serve as a base and as such have heavily rusticated stone cladding. Above is a balustrade supported on heavy brackets. The upper stories are clad in smooth faced ashlar and topped by an elaborate Doric entablature carried on Doric pilasters.
The symmetrical principal facade faces Washington Place and Washington Park and is approximately 215 feet long divided into eleven bays. The Washington Street facade is about 100 feet long divided into five bays with much the same configuration as the front. It is also symmetrical with the exception being the addition of a mezzanine window above the first floor door at the southernmost bay as opposed to the more monumental first floor door at the northernmost bay. The Halsey Street facade is exactly the same as the Washington Street. Lastly, the rear facade is clad with red face brick; the light courts and penthouses are clad with buff colored brick.
Openings on the principal facades are typically flat arched openings at the second, fifth and sixth floors as well as at the end bays; monumental round arched openings are located at the first and third floors. The five first floor entrances provided access to the Lobby, two retail spaces, and the public corridor. Above the center front entrance were originally incised letters identifying the Globe Building; bronze letters identifying the Veterans Administration have been added.
Inside, the Lobby is richly detailed with marble walls and floors and ornate plaster ceilings. Doric pilasters and an entablature further embellish the walls. Handsome bronze doors open off of the lobby into the former east and west retail spaces. These two former retail spaces, nearly 22 feet tall, are much simpler in detail. At the rear of the west retail space is a mezzanine which was originally separated from the space below only by a railing. It is now completely enclosed. The mezzanine was a relatively unfinished space with concrete floors, metal doors and frames, and plaster walls and ceilings. Both retail spaces and all of the upper floors have been remodeled, and have only a few details and spaces which hint at the building's original appearance. The building is constructed of steel encased in concrete with reinforced concrete floors. Original interior partition walls are either brick or structural clay tile. Sprinkler systems have been installed at many of the spaces throughout the building.
The Veterans Administration Building is located within the James Street Commons Historic District which represents one of the oldest sections of Newark, New Jersey. Originally constructed in 1920 by the Globe Indemnity Insurance Company as its headquarters, in 1946 the U.S. Government purchased it for the Veterans Administration. The building faces Washington Park. Two mansions stood on the site of the Globe Building prior to its construction. Another mansion, the Ballantine House, constructed in 1884, remains standing northwest of the Veterans Administration Building and is now the location of the Newark Museum.
When the Veterans Administration Building was constructed, the first floor was retail space, with a store on each side of the central lobby. These areas have since been converted to office use with an open office plan. The second through sixth floors were originally insurance company offices, but are now used for Veterans Administration office functions. A mezzanine, between the first and second floors, is above the public corridor which runs along the back, or south, side of the first floor. In 1946, the center mezzanine was enclosed as a pharmacy. The first floor lobby and elevator lobby retain their original character and finishes. Otherwise at the interior, little remains of the original interior finishes other than at areas such as the first floor retail spaces and the second through sixth floor elevator lobby floors.
The Globe Building, designed by Frank Goodwillie, is an example of the Second Renaissance Revival style, a style which, at the turn of the century, was made popular by McKim, Mead, and White. It was constructed during the height of popularity of this style which was frequently used by corporations because of its association with solidity and good taste. The building is a landmark within the James Street Commons Historic District because of its location on the park, its size, and its architectural style. The Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee's guide to the district states: "The Veterans Administration Building is much in character in materials, workmanship, and basic style with similar institutional structures
on Washington Park, such as the Newark Public Library and the Newark Museum..."
The building was rededicated on June 16, 1999. The Northeast & Caribbean Region had recently completed a $13.5 million restoration and rehabilitation project at the building. In 1998, the Newark Landmark Historic Preservation Commission recognized GSA's efforts on this project with the presentation of the Commission's Donald T. Dust Recognition Award. In approximately 2001, the exterior was restored, which included masonry work as well as roofing replacement.