The Ottilio Building

Demolition Firm Builds With Relics of Past

by William Robbins
Excerpted from The New York Times, June 6, 1968

HALF-CENTURY-OLD marble columns from a Paterson hospital, wrought iron from the Passaic County Jail, cobblestones from Jersey streets, a foyer from the Paramount Theater, lights and stone from the Japanese Pavilion at the New York World's Fair -- these and dozens of other materials each with a history of its own have been blended into a new office building that dominates the crest of a six-acre hill on Preakness Avenue in Paterson, N.J.

The building is the new headquarters of V. Ottilio & Sons. It was built and decorated with material salvaged by the company, most of it from structures the company had been commissioned to demolish.

The large contracting company, operating throughout the New York metropolitan area, derives about half its revenue from demolition jobs, and the other half from heavy construction, such as excavation, foundations and paving.

Though completed only last month, the Ottilio Building covers a span of 57 years, and reaches back in decorative tangents to still earlier times. Although construction work started three years ago, the project is more than 15 years old, dating from the time when Carmen and his brother, Michael Ottilio, began collecting the materials.

The building was designed by Carmen Ottilio, a square-set man whose mobile face glows when he speaks of the project.

"It was a labor of love," he says. Carmen is now the chief executive officer of the company founded by his father, Victor, in 1914.

Even the labor that went into the building is salvaged. It was spare time conserved when company crews were between jobs or temporarily delayed on other projects.

A visitor first views the building from beyond a fence formed by a massive chain dragged from the bottom of the Hudson River during demolition of a pier. Each link of the chain weighs 94 pounds.

The visitor enters the building through a glass enclosed vestibule with doors and material from the old Paramount Theater in New York.

Inside, a fountain from the Japanese Pavilion at the World's Fair forms the focal point of a spacious lobby, set in the center of a marble floor also preserved from a World's Fair pavilion.

Above the fountain, a metal staircase rises in a graceful sweep toward an open balcony accented by artifacts taken from demolition projects. The staircase was taken from the Transportation Building at the World's Fair, and its railings are metalwork from the Seven-Up and Equitable Life Pavilions at the Fair.

Off the balcony is Mr. Ottilio's office, which has walls composed partly of stone from the Japanese pavilion at the fair.

On a slope behind the Ottilio building the company is now completing a Japanese garden, using massive stones salvaged from demolition and a bridge that was at the World's Fair.

Carmen Ottilio, describing the project, said last week:

"It has been my pleasure to save these pieces from grand buildings that other people had thought outlived their usefulness and to create something from them."

Diary of a NYWF Legacy Mystery

The Ottilio Building

Ottilion Building

by Elizabeth Klug
Source: Diary Article and Photographs:
Sour© Copyright 2001, Elizabeth Klug

Saturday, July 8, 2000

I decided to take a ride to Clifton, NJ on the Garden State Parkway to try to locate the re-assembled India Pavilion [See Legacies Page 1]. After paying a few tolls to turn around a couple times, I thought I found the structure. I stopped on the highway (which is a great way to get creamed), and grabbed a quick picture. I got back in the car and decided to try to find the road running parallel to the GSP from which the building is accessible. I found the road and pulled into the parking lot to take some more photos. Still unsure if I had the right place, I noticed a sign for the leasing agent of the building. I'll give them a call on Monday in hopes that they can shed some light on this mystery.

Monday, July 10, 2000

I spoke with the leasing agent. He had no knowledge of this building having originated from the NYWF, but he gave me the name of a Mr. Anthony Ottilio. Mr. Ottilio's father was involved in the demolition of the Fair and constructed an office building located in Totowa, NJ using remnants of the Fair. Talk about stumbling on information!

Tuesday, July 11, 2000

I spoke with Mr. Ottilio. His father was in charge of parts of the demolition of the NYWF. He used remnants of the Vatican, Japanese and Transportation & Travel Pavilions from the 1964-65 NYWF, as well as remnants of the old Paramount Theater in NYC and a local hospital in Paterson, NJ to construct this office building, which is registered in the National Registry of Historic Places. He has kindly invited me over for a tour next Wednesday. What a fantastic find!

Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Mr. Ottilio was very gracious and took me on a tour of this fascinating building. Here are the highlights of the NYWF artifacts used in this building:


Vatican StonesUpper Exterior Wall Stone / Vatican Pavilion









Vatican LampsHanging Lamps / Vatican Pavilion








Vatican DoorsGate from Chapel / Vatican Pavilion; originally from a church in Sicily








Vatican FloorCarrara Marble Floor from Pieta Display / Vatican Pavilion





Vatican PedestalMarble Pedestal / Vatican Pavilion









Vatican BenchMarble Bench / Vatican Pavilion






Japanese StonesLava Stone from Mt. Fuji / Japanese Pavilion








Japan Pavilion / World's FairPavilion of Japan, New York World's Fair 1964/1965 (note the Jade Stones in the middle of the moat and the Lava Stone walls)




Ottilio LobbyOttilio Building Lobby featuring Jade Stone from Japanese Pavilion moat





T&T StaircaseStairs / Transportation & Travel Pavilion; Railings / Seven-Up & Equitable Pavilions





T&T StaircaseStairs / Transportation & Travel Pavilion; Railings / Seven-Up & Equitable Pavilions

An article was written about this building in the New York Times Real Estate Section on June 6, 1968 [See section above]. A major renovation is currently being planned and will be completed in the summer of 2001. The historical elements of the building will be preserved during the renovation.

I still have not solved the mystery of the India Pavilion.


Webmaster's Note: I would like to thank Liz Klug for risking life and limb out on the Garden State Parkway to attempt to track down the former India Pavilion, which was rumored to have been reconstructed in the Clifton, NJ area following the Fair. Her "Grand Adventure" lead her to the treasure trove of World's Fair mementos at the Ottilio Building in Totowa, NJ. Thanks, Liz, for allowing us to join you on your mystery tour!

Bill Young
July, 2000

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