|American Insurance Company Building|
|Owner||Rutgers University -Newark|
|Roof||326 ft (99 m)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||John H. & Wilson C. Ely|
James Street Commons Historic District
|NRHP reference #||78001758|
|Added to NRHP||January 9, 1978|
|Designated NJRHP||February 10, 1977|
The American Insurance Company Building is one of the oldest and tallest skyscrapers in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, United States. Located at 15 Washington Street on Washington Park it was once headquarters for the American Insurance Company and is now part of Rutgers University. The neo-classical tower is a contributing property to the James Street Commons Historic District which also encompasses Washington Park, Newark Museum, and Newark Public Library. In re-opened in November 2015 as student dorms, event space, and chancellor's apartment.
Newark has been a center for the insurance industry since the early 19th century and has been home to Fireman's Insurance Company and Mutual Benefit Life. The Prudential Insurance headquarters are prominent buildings within the Four Corners Historic District.
The American Insurance Company was incorporated February 20, 1846 and commenced business on April 1, 1846. The company maintained offices downtown on Broad Street and later Park Place. A new home office was completed in 1930. The sixteen story neo-classical tower is 326 ft (99 m) tall. A main interior feature is a "great hall" with 20 ft (6.1 m) ceilings and 15 ft (4.6 m) windows. The building was designed by the father and son architectural firm, John H. & Wilson C. Ely, which also designed the National Newark Building and Newark City Hall.
The American Insurance Company later became the American Insurance Group. The company was acquired by the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company in 1963 the combined company for a time known as the Fireman's Fund American Insurance Group.
In 1977 the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company announced it would be moving its corporate headquarters from downtown Newark to a new campus in suburban Morris Plains, N.J. The company donated its soon to be vacated building to Rutgers University.
After outgrowing facilities in several buildings in downtown the Rutgers School of Law in Newark consolidated into the skyscraper located near the main campus. It was named it in honor of Samuel Irving Newhouse, Sr., a 1916 graduate of the New Jersey Law School (a forerunner of the law school) and founder of Advance Publications and housed the SI Newhouse Center for Law and Justice from 1979 to 1999. after which time the building remained empty.
Rutgers originally intended to develop the building as a hotel, but the project fell through after September 11, 2001. In February 2012, the university announced that it planned to renovate the vacant structure for graduate student housing, citing the growing need and prime location near the campus and the Newark Broad Street Station. The project calls for a conversion into a mixed-use complex with furnished studio apartments and one- to four-bedroom units for 350 students. It is expected to cost $71 million and be a catalyst for continued renaissance of downtown as a residential as well as commercial community. The project is financed through grants, tax credits, and bond issues. Renovations are expected to begin in 2014 and completed in 2015. and will include public performance spaces and a penthouse for the school's chancellor.
In 1804, the Newark Banking and Insurance Company opened, followed by the Newark Mutual Assurance Company (The Newark Fire Insurance Company) in 1810, and the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company in 1845. John F. Dryden founded the Prudential Insurance Company in Newark in 1875.
The American Insurance Group, comprising the American Insurance Company, parent organization, the Bankers Indemnity Insurance Company, casualty affiliate and the Columbia Fire Insurance Company, last year wrote insurance premiums totaling $64,582,591, compared with $61,760,031 in 1949.
In 1957 Fireman's Fund moved to a new headquarters.....The company also made several profitable additions to its business during the early 1960s, including the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company of Texas, incorporated in 1962, and the American Insurance Company plus its two subsidiaries, American Automobile Insurance Company and The Associated Indemnity Company, acquired in 1963.
Bruno C. Vitt, a leader in fire insurance who had been president and chairman of The American Insurance Company, now part of the Fireman's Fund American Insurance Companies group, died Wednesday in Pinehurst, N.C.