New York’s Independent Art Fair Is Moving Into the Historic Battery Maritime Building—See Images of the Beaux-Arts Space Here

The turn-of-the-century building has been closed to the public for over 50 years.

Battery Maritime Building, 2021. Courtesy of Matteo Prandoni Photography.

This fall, the Independent Art Fair’s return will mark the reopening of a historic New York architectural icon, too. The 2021 edition is taking place at downtown Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building, which will open to the public for the first time in decades. 

The Battery Maritime Building was built from 1906 to 1909 as part of the Whitehall Street Ferry Terminal, one of the oldest seaports in the nation. Built to serve ferries traveling to and from Brooklyn, the Battery Maritime was designed by the firm Walker and Morris in the Beaux-Arts style, characterized by vaulted ceilings, remarkable ironwork, ornate capitals, and stained glass windows. Over the years, the grand public building fell into disrepair and disuse, with the Brooklyn ferry line shuttering in 1938. The building was landmarked in 1967, however, and is now making a triumphant return during the fair. 

Municipal Ferry Houses. Waiting Room. Architects and Builders' Magazine(1909-1910).

Municipal Ferry Houses. Waiting Room. Architects and Builders’ Magazine (1909–1910).

The property’s historical restoration has been spearheaded by the Cipriani family (Cipriani South Street is the official name of the venue) with both Marvel Architects and Thierry W. Despont Ltd. as the firms that oversaw the restoration, construction, and design of the landmarked property. In this location, Independent will present three exhibitor halls in a venue that includes waterfront vistas and a terrace for the bar and restaurant, which will operate in collaboration with Cipriani South Street. 

Postcard of the Woolworth Building from Ferry.

Postcard of the Woolworth Building from Ferry.

The 2021 edition of Independent is reimagined in its own right, as well, with the fair drawing back to the special 2014 edition at the former Dia Center for the Arts. Galleries will showcase specially commissioned presentations that are relevant to our current moment. Forty galleries and institutions are participating this fall, with 11 making their Independent debut, including Mrs. Gallery from Queens, New York, and Matthew Brown Los Angeles.

As for what to see, Chicago’s Monique Meloche Gallery will present a new body of paintings and sculptures by Chase Hall, and Oakland’s Creative Growth Art Center is planning a display of work by William Scott, a self-taught artist with disabilities, whose art is rooted in questions of citizenship, community, and cultural memory. 

Municipal Ferry Houses. South Facade. Architects and Builders' Magazine(1909-1910).

Municipal Ferry Houses. South Facade. Architects and Builders’ Magazine (1909–1910).

The fair promises to accommodate both in-person and virtual visitors. Independent will launch its first online viewing room platform for two weeks in September. 

“This will be the first opportunity to go inside and visit the architectural restoration of the legendary Battery Maritime building in 50-plus years,” said fair founder Elizabeth Dee. “What’s most extraordinary is the opportune timing, coinciding with this iconic building’s opening and Independent’s new iteration of the fair with more than 80 artists taking part.” 

Crozier is a sponsor of the 2021 edition of Independent. Independent Art Fair takes place from September 9–11, 2021. More information is available here.

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