In 1888, Michael Fay and William Stacom commissioned the architectural firm of Rentz and Lange to design and construct a mid-block row of three adjacent tenements at 103, 105, and 107 Orchard Street. Each of these Old-Law, "dumbbell" style tenements contained eighteen residential apartments (with shared hall toilets), along with two ground-floor commercial storefronts.
Between 1903 and 1905, the north end of the block was cleared as part of a municipal street-widening project that transformed ten blocks of Delancey Street into a monumental approach to the newly-completed Williamsburg Bridge. The three buildings immediately to the north of 103-107 Orchard Street were demolished and cleared.
In 1906, the tenements at 103, 105, and 107 Orchard Street - the current site of 103 - were purchased by Joseph Marcus, founder and president of the Bank of the United States. Between 1906 and 1915, Marcus commissioned two major alterations that turned the buildings at 103, 105, and 107 Orchard Street into a single corner building with a significant first-floor commercial presence on Delancey Street.
Undoubtedly, the most far-reaching alteration occurred between 1913 and 1915, when Marcus combined the three tenements at 103-107 Orchard to create a single corner building, at the same time demolishing the western portions of all three to clear the rear portion of their lots for another construction project.
Delancey Street facade of 103 Orchard, looking southeast, showing two stores with different infill at left, and ornamental entrance surround at apartment and easement entries at right. Brickwork and terra cotta on upper floors are painted a uniform light color. ca. 1940 (NYC Municipal Archives)
Facades of 101 Orchard and 81 Delancey: Looking northwest, showing two stores (Zwaifler Handkerchiefs and Trenk Undergarments), extensive and varied signage, and a section of molded metal cornice over the south easement. Brickwork and terra cotta on upper floors are painted a uniform light color. ca. 1940 (NYC Municipal Archives)
103 and 105 Orchard, showing "M. Zwaifler & Co." handkerchief store at left, with two cellar stores below, and "M. Trenk Hosiery and Undergarments" at right. After 1934. (LESTM)
103 Orchard: Looking southwest, showing three storefronts with post-1940 signage and storefront infill (Klein's of Monticello, Blimpie's, L & N Paris Fashions). Roll-down gates installed everywhere but Blimpie's. Remnants of light-colored paint on brickwork and terra cotta. ca. 1983-88 (NYC Municipal Archives)