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Greybrook House

A Grade II Listed Building in City of Westminster, London

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Latitude: 51.5133 / 51°30'47"N

Longitude: -0.1465 / 0°8'47"W

OS Eastings: 528717

OS Northings: 181002

OS Grid: TQ287810

Mapcode National: GBR CC.9P

Mapcode Global: VHGQZ.D7Y7

Entry Name: Greybrook House

Listing Date: 17 November 2008

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392996

English Heritage Legacy ID: 505184

Location: Westminster, London, W1S

County: London

District: City of Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: West End

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St George, Hanover Square

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text

1900/1/10420 BROOK STREET
17-NOV-08 (North side)
Greybrook House

Built as showroom with practice rooms and offices above for Bechstein's, the piano manufacturer, in 1929 by Sir John Burnet & Partners. Later alterations to interior.

MATERIALS: Steel framed with concrete floor plates, its brown stock brick walls clad in Portland stone on the Brook Street frontage and the first part of the return into the Haunch of Venison Yard.

EXTERIOR: Greybrook House is a six-storey, L-plan, building, wrapping via a curve around the intersection of Brook Street (on which its main, short, façade stands) and the Haunch of Venison Yard. The building's principal interest lies in the Art Deco (or Moderne) treatment of the facades, which have reeded and fluted (or corrugated) panels in the stonework especially on the corner elevation and at the top of the building where there is a double set-back. The elevations feature deeply set-back elongated metal-framed windows with low metal balustrades. Perhaps the single most striking feature is an octagonal, eye-like window surrounded by a ribbon-like metal reeding at first-floor level on the corner elevation. The doorway to the offices behind, on the left side of the Brook Street frontage, and the doorway to the ground floor shop (created from what was originally a showroom window) and its windows are all set in simple openings in the Portland stone façade.

INTERIOR: The original staircase and central lift survive, as do the glazed wooden doors which give access on each floor to the offices to the front and to the rear of the building. All these are simply but well detailed. Otherwise any original features have been removed along with the partitions which originally subdivided the upper floors. The modern office interiors and that of the ground-floor shop are not of special interest.

HISTORY: Greybrook House was built for Bechstein, a German firm of piano makers founded in Berlin in 1853 by Friedrich Wilhelm Carl Bechstein (1826-1900). Following successful receptions at the 1862 London exhibition and the 1867 Paris exhibition, the output of the firm grew from 300 instruments a year during the 1860s to 5,000 in the years preceding the First World War. The British market took half of this, and Bechstein was the London's largest piano dealership. In 1901 the firm opened a concert room for recitals in London, known as the Bechstein Hall, next to its showrooms on Wigmore Street. Bechstein, like other German firms in Britain during the Great War, experienced hostility and a decline in business. The firm's affairs were wound up in 1916 by the Board of Trade and the entire business - including studios, offices, warehouses, 137 pianos, and the Hall itself (reopened in 1917 as the Wigmore Hall) - was sold at auction to Debenhams for £56,500. No. 28 Brook Street was designed by Sir John Burnet & Partners, and was built in 1929 as Bechstein's showrooms, presumably as the firm sought to re-establish a visible presence in the British piano market. It comprised showrooms, with practice rooms and office space above. The ground floor is now a shop, while the upper floors are used as offices.

Greybrook House was designed and built by the architectural practice of Sir John Burnet and Partners, a large commercial firm led by Sir John, who received the RIBA Gold Medal in 1922 and who is noted for his pioneering work in promoting the Beaux Arts style in the Edwardian period, and for his promotion of masterly stone cutting. In the inter-war period the practice increasingly worked in the new Moderne Movement and Art Deco styles.

SOURCES: David M. Walker, 'Burnet, Sir John James (1857-1938)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32187, accessed 5 Aug 2008]

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION: Greybrook House is listed, for the following principal reasons:
* As a well-detailed, pleasing and externally little-altered essay in Art Deco in a prominent location
* It is by the well-regarded architectural practice of Sir John Burnet and Partners, noted practitioners of the Moderne Style in the inter-war period.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Reasons for Listing

Greybrook House has been designated for the following principal reasons:
* As a well-detailed, pleasing and externally little-altered essay in Art Deco in a prominent location;
* It is by the well-regarded architectural practice of Sir John Burnet and Partners, noted practitioners of the Moderne style in the inter-war period.

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