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An Art Deco Beauty in New Haven, CT

 100_6679This gem of a building is tucked in between high rises in downtown New Haven, you might not even notice and that’s why I’m pointing it out to you.

This building is quite famous. Built in 1938 by Meriden, Connecticut’s, Douglas Orr, this was the headquarters to what was then Southern New England Telephone.

Orr is credited with major renovations at The White House.

Twelve hundred workers once passed thru its marbled lobbies. Now it’s an apartment building and it’s called The Eli.

The top two floors are penthouse apartments, quite swanky indeed.

There certainly is a hint of the New York City’s Chrysler building here, my favorite of course, which is why I couldn’t wait to get inside this structure.

There aren’t a lot of Art Deco buildings in Connecticut so this one is certainly special.

On the floor of the lobby there is a map of the state with dots marking where all the offices of SNET once were.

The building is 15 floors, the tenth tallest in New Haven, and it has a roof top deck for those who live there, and the view is spectacular.

You can see Long Island Sound and the historic New Haven Green and everything else for miles and miles.

My tour guide was evening concierge, David Ahern who worked for SNET back in the day. He’s really proud to be back in the old place helping its tenants. He told me about the fleet of people that once worked for SNET and how during emergencies, when it was all hands on deck,  everyone would be fed at headquarters on the second floor of the building.

David knows they don’t build structures like this anymore and he loves the fact that he’s had quite a past here.

In fact if you want a look at what the SNET president’s office looked like back in the late 1930’s, there are photos right here from the Library of Congress.

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Ann Nyberg


  1. Devon MacKAY
    Posted April 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    If you like Douglas Orr and Art Deco, your next stop has got to be the New Haven Lawn Club. Come visit us Annie Mame!

    • Annie Mame
      Posted April 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      That is correct, Orr designed The New Haven Lawn Club as well!

  2. John Friedlander
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    I have very special memories of this building, as I was one of the original leasing agents as it was being renovated. I gave many, many tours of the building during this process back in the very late 90s, and enjoyed watching the light cross its facade through the day from my office across the street. I used detail photos of its deco features in the ads I developed at the time. Yes, the top floor is amazing, as is the view from the roof… Many memories indeed..

  3. Janet Ainsworth
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Amazing building. In the 70s, I was a young reporter for the now-defunct Journal-Courier. Lived on Humphrey Street, behind the Lawn Club. Used to walk or bike around New Haven whenever I could. It felt like a mini-Boston. Then, as the 80’s arrived, moved to the burbs and started night law school on top of a full-time day job. Lost touch with the Elm City. Haven’t been back much. Too bad that.

  4. Posted April 24, 2010 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    You’re right on the money Anne Mame!

    I totally *heart* Art Deco, and this is my favorite example in New Haven, too. (There’s also a great painting of the building – by Paul Falcone – kicking around somewhere…)

  5. Roger
    Posted April 25, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Great post, Annie Mame. Thanks for giving us this rare look inside.

    • Annie Mame
      Posted April 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, a bunch for checking in, Roger, means a lot.

  6. Posted July 17, 2010 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I always wondered about this building. Great post! Thanks 🙂

  7. Valerie Morrell
    Posted February 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    This is great. I showed it to my husband. His Grandmother worked in this building many years ago.

  8. Mike Gargano
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t care too much for art deco, but I love the photo of my buddy Dave Ahern.

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted March 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      What a great guy Mike is, he is a great guide and the residents love him!