By Julie Shapiro
Whenever Joseph Svehlak walked past 99 Church St., the old headquarters of Moody’s Corporation, he liked to look at the large metal sculpture above the doorway. Called “Credit,” the rectangular piece featured symbols of agriculture and industry in harmony.
“It was the focal point of the entrance to the building,” Svehlak said. “It symbolized what Moody’s was about.”
Svehlak always pointed out the sculpture when he gave tours of Lower Manhattan, but in mid-January, he noticed Credit was gone. The entire Moody’s building is being demolished to make way for Silverstein Properties’ high-rise Four Seasons hotel. Svehlak wondered, “What happened to Credit?”
It turns out that Moody’s decided not to bring the plaque along to its new headquarters in 7 World Trade Center, but instead created a smaller replica. The replica, a shinier gold color than the weathered original, is hanging in Moody’s offices, which are not open to the public.
The original Credit is now long gone, removed and recycled by Waldorf Demolition, a Silverstein spokesperson said.
Svehlak, a preservationist, was sad to hear the news.
“Redevelopment is good for the economy, but wasn’t there a way that the wonderful grand plaque could have been reused in the new building instead of being destroyed?” Svehlak asked. “It’s another blow to Downtown.”
The metal sculpture, which Svehlak estimates as a 10 or 12-foot square, featured a rifle-bearing frontiersman and a muscular industrial worker holding hands, with trees, fields, a farmhouse and skyscrapers in the background. Beneath the image is a quote from Daniel Webster on the importance of credit. In an 1834 Senate speech, Webster called credit “the vital air of the system of modern commerce.”
A Moody’s representative did not know who created Credit, but said he thought the piece dated to the building’s 1951 construction. He also did not say why Moody’s made a replica rather than moving the original.