When it opened at the corner of Hanson Place and Ashland Place in 1928, this was the tallest structure in Brooklyn. Designed to house the Williamsburgh Savings Bank by architects Halsey, McCormack & Helmer, the profile of its distinctive clock tower and dome led this description in the AIA Guide to New York City:
Inadvertently, this was New York’s most exuberant phallic symbol … its slender tower dominating the landscape of all Brooklyn. A crisp and clean tower, it is detailed in Romanesque-Byzantine arches, columns, and capitals. The 26th floor once included accessible outdoor viewing space, after a change of elevators … all in all, it is 512 feet of skyline. Inside, the great basilican banking hall is called by the Landmarks Preservation Commission a “cathedral of thrift.”
The cornerstone is engraved with the seal of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, the date of its charter and the words, “To our depositors past and present this building is dedicated. By their industry and thrift they have built homes and educated children, opened the door of opportunity to youth and made age comfortable, independant and dignified. By those sturdy virtues they have attained their ambitions, swept aside the petty distinctions of class and birth and so maintained the true spirit of American democracy.”
Now the building known as One Hanson Place is closed for renovation. When it reopens in about 15 months or so, this building will contain luxury condominiums.