Weylin, previously the Williamsburgh Savings Bank is one of New York’s most monumental public spaces from the post-Civil War era. Its architecture and interior, along with the collaborative story of its rise to fame, became the face – or rather the edifice – of the American Renaissance, serving as a focal point for an entire generation of Beaux-Arts structures in the United States.
Built between 1870 and 1875, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank was one of the earliest projects by renowned New York City architect George B. Post, who would later go on to design the New York Stock Exchange and Cornelius Vanderbilt II Mansion, the largest residence in the country at the time. Post’s Beaux-Art exterior serves as one of the earliest examples of the French-inspired Classical Revival Style in America following the Civil War. To aid in his vision of this idyllic space he enlisted the help of renowned architect, designer and artisan Peter B. Wight to execute the building’s interior. The focus of the venue is Wight’s elaborate polychromed 110-foot cast iron dome. Resting on enormous stone arches, the dome encloses oval windows, which allow natural sunlight to flood the space. The vaulted ceiling of the dome features a mural of spear-shaped rays extending out from a central azure cap, which remain the only surviving mural decoration by Wight.
The Bank was intended to act as a haven for working class people to safely invest their money. This “bank for the people” would also serve women and servants who lacked substantial rights. In 1966, the building’s exterior was declared a New York City landmark; the interior followed suit in 1996. The building is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was later acquired by the Republic National Bank in 1989 which subsequently became HSBC. In August 2010, HSBC relocated their Williamsburg branch and put the building on the market.
In November 2010, a group of Brooklyn entrepreneurs purchased the 135-year-old landmark and began a three-year restoration of the historic building, thereby converting it into the five-star event space Weylin.