Press “6″ for boardrooms, the C-suite, and corsets
By Guest Blogger on October 13th, 2011
The great thing about old buildings (like ours here in SoHo!) is that they hold secret stories in their walls, under old carpets and behind peeling wallpaper. When our corporate productions team told us about something they found here at Scholastic headquarters, we realized it was way too cool a story to keep to ourselves. So Roman Feeser and Lia Zneimer are here to show you the secret history of the Scholastic building. Read on, and maybe you’ll be inspired to dig through your own offices to see what kind of history you find!
Did you know that archeologists recently uncovered the ruins of a massive gladiator camp east of Vienna, Austria? The site, which the team called a “sensational discovery,” was part of a former Roman settlement. The huge amphitheater, which was used to train warriors, rivals the Colosseum and the Ludus Magnus in Rome.
Well, it may not be built on an ancient gladiator camp, but Scholastic’s corporate world headquarters has a unique archeological history of its own — and we recently made a pretty sensational discovery ourselves. 555 Broadway (a.k.a. The Rouss Building) was originally a department store owned by Charles “Broadway” Rouss, a millionaire from Virginia who earned a fortune in retail. After losing his wealth and fighting in the Civil War, Rouss moved to New York City, where, after making and losing his fortune a few more times, he opened a department store at 555 Broadway — the very building that now houses Scholastic headquarters.
While preparing for our Event Planners Open House this September, the Event Services team at Scholastic was working hard to gather facts about Charles “Broadway” Rouss and his building to share with our potential clients. There are many aspects to putting together a great event. Sure, you have to worry about invitations, the perfect music, and whether or not to invite That Friend (you know, the one who rifles through your medicine cabinet.); but when you are planning an event for someone else, you have to go the extra mile to get it just right. So we compiled a one-sheet of facts not only about Scholastic’s event spaces, but also the historic relevance of our building. The building is, after all, part of the event space as a whole, and any historic information could be a useful tool when brainstorming ideas.
That’s when we made a sensational discovery of our own, buried deep within the confines of cyberspace: a floor plan of original Rouss Building, unearthed by Scholastic Event Services’ in-house archeologist (slash Production Coordinator) Joseph Argabrite. Here’s what it looked like:
These days, our building is piled high with books and offices (and more books), but as you can see here, that wasn’t always the case! The 2nd Floor, now home to the Living Room (one of our favorite event spaces!), formerly housed Carpets, Upholstery and Shades (fitting, given the coziness of the room.). What is now the Greenhouse where employees eat lunch was once a floor dedicated to Shoes, Paintings, and Art (thanks to the Alliance for Young Artist & Writers, who display winning artwork from teens across the country, we still have awesome artwork on those walls!). It’s fun to imagine how these hallways, which see the likes of J.K. Rowling walk through them, once used to house linens and umbrellas. Fittingly, back then, the 8th floor sold books — and today, it’s where our Trade editorial and publicity teams sit! Looks like history repeats itself…
From department store to corporate world headquarters, Scholastic’s building is rich in history…and loads of fun. So if you’re looking for a space for your next event, don’t hesitate to call.
Now, what floor were those Gent’s Furnishing on again…?
Have you ever made any cool discoveries about the origins of your home or office building? Leave ‘em in the comments!