I noticed this rather attractive office building situated at 117 Fenchurch Street, London, during my lunch-time stroll the other day. I have been unable to discover a great deal about it’s design or history, but was shocked to learn that it could be scheduled for demolition, along with it’s neighbours, as part of another city sky-scraper project.
The building was constructed in the 1920s and has an imposing classical Portland stone facade. It features rusticated stone arches on the first two storeys, and a large round arched entrance, decorated with carved trophies and emblems.
The detail of the facade is amazing, including the lions over looking shields or plaques in between the first and second floor windows, and each window has a winged torch set in a circular dish. There are also many floral references. I am not aware of the original owners of the building and so am left guessing as to what much of the decoration alludes too. Winged torches can be seen on many buildings of this period and older, and alludes to “a bringer of light” which often symbolises the gathering or passing of knowledge. A well known example of this usage is the badge of the United States Army Pathfinder School.
During the 1970s two additional stories were added on the roof which unfortunately were not done the in the most sympathetic of styles.
It is sandwiched between some mundane 1950s office blocks, but surprisingly has no listed status, or conservation area protection. So it seems due to its situation amongst the bland, and the alterations to the building, it is unlikely to get a reprieve from the wrecking ball in the near future.
After a bit more digging around, I have found the previous owners were Assicurazioni Generali UK, who are presently located at the rear of this building in Fenchurch Avenue. It appears they had acquired this and neighbouring buildings as part of a plan to build a new 15 storey tower on the site. The project is known as “120 Fenchurch Street”, and the proposed tower will have a large footprint with ground level retail space and feature gardens on the roof which will be accessible to the public.
After continued research, I finally came up with a decent back-history for 117 Fenchurch Street. It was built in 1921-23 and the original architects were E Stones with W Gilbee Scott completing the project. It was originally known as the Cory Buildings, as it appears to have been constructed for a shipping company then known as The Cory Lighterage Company.