One of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker is located at the 1870 Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building.
“On July 8, 1869, the press reported the recent completion of the Merchants Mutual Insurance Company Building: “It is unlike any other in the external appearance, being finished in the French style with a Mansard roof. The front is of iron and brick, the casting being perhaps a trifle more ornamental than usual… The ground floor is divided into two parts. The Eastern half is occupied by the Insurance Company, as a general office, with an elegantly finished director’s parlor in the rear, which is furnished with a marble mantle and grate.” (Flake’s Daily Bulletin)”
“The building, and the entire block, burned on December 3, 1869, in the disastrous Moro Castle Fire. The press reported: “This building had the only Mansard roof in the city, and was an ornament of which we were justly proud. Great efforts were made to save it, and… it would have been saved, as were some other buildings, had there been iron shutters. It is now almost level with the ground, workmen being engaged in the taking down of its walls.” (Flake’s Daily Bulletin, Dec. 5, 1869)”
“By March, 1870, Merchants Mutual was already constructing the building again complete with Mansard roof. This second building, shown in the photograph and standing today, was of the same French Renaissance style as the first and probably identical.”
“By 1874, Merchants Mutual had ceased operations. By 1881, the building was purchased by the major wholesale clothing house of Halff, Weis and Company, with a branch office and factory in New York City at 466-468 Broadway.”
“To the right an early building was also destroyed by the Moro Castle Fire. In 1870, Colonel Bolton constructed a second building, but this was badly burned by a self-contained fire in 1876. The Bolton Estate rebuilt the building in 1877, using architects Clayton and Lynch. This third building stands today, though its cast-iron was removed years ago, its cornice and window hood-moulds simplified, and its original stucco (treated to resemble ashlar stone construction) obliterated. For many years this building housed the Smith Brothers Hardware Company. To the left in the photo stands the 1870 J. F. Mangle Building.”