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Apartment Building (Lehigh Valley Railroad Headquarters Building)
The former railroad headquarters building steps up a steep slope overlooking the railroad's main line. Conceived as the railroad's principal offices, the main building rose in stages, a three-floor eastern section begun in 1886, and a four-floor west wing along with an additional fourth floor atop the east wing begun in 1889. The red brick building, each wing set atop a stone base, exhibits the flamboyant architectural treatment fashionable in the later decades of the nineteenth century. The earlier east end is the more excessive, featuring a frieze of pink sandstone terra-cotta quatrefoils set in red brick, diamond-patterned gable ends, and tapestry brick around topfloor windows, as well as a complicated roof complete with corner turret. A handsome brick entrance arch, only a slight point keeping it from being Richardsonian, marks the joint between phases. Inside, an open stair retains its decorative ironwork. Robert Sayre, chief engineer and general superintendent of the railroad, was responsible for the design. He was also associated with nearby Lehigh University ( NO41), where he employed Philadelphia architect Addison Hutton. Perhaps Hutton advised Sayre on the design of the Railroad Headquarters Building, the west end of which is in keeping with Hutton's sensibilities. Only a few years after the building was completed the sale of the railroad led to new headquarters being established in New York City. The South Bethlehem building continued to function as railroad offices until 1983 when it was converted into apartments.
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