Among its highly influential residents were Albert Phelps Armour (1882–1960), an industrialist who wore many hats, and Trygve Halvdan Lie (1896–1968), the first Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Completed in 1927, Granston Tower was built by Armour and designed by architect Douglass Fitch. After its completion, it was recognized by the Queens Chamber of Commerce as part of its annual Building Awards.
During WWI, Armour oversaw the building of 188 airplanes. Not long after the war, he and partner Maurice Turner of Kew Gardens invented folding telephone booths and founded the Turner-Armour Company. The patent was eventually sold to Western Electric Company.
He manufactured the battery for the “Plunger” submarine used by Theodore Roosevelt while he was employed by Peerless Igniter Company. In addition, he created the first ignition batteries for automobiles.
He also supervised the construction of his 65-foot schooner, the Alpha. It was said that his love for the sea was likely inherited; his ancestors played roles in the formation of the U.S. prior to the Revolutionary War and included two captains. One ancestor helped found St. Mark’s-In-The-Bowery.
Armour also taught terpsichorean art and performed in musicals.
“Although I admire the foreign composers whose music we hear, I hope America can produce their equals,” he was quoted as saying at the time. “I should like to hear American operas, written by American composers and sung by Americans in our own language.”
Locally, Armour served as director of Boulevard Bank at 108-01 Queens Boulevard. He was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, which he helped found in 1899. It would become the largest prep school fraternity countrywide.
Additionally, he was a member of the Queens Valley Golf Club and the Volunteer Life Savings Corps at Jamaica Bay. His Dalmatian, Topper, won ribbons at dog shows. Armour later resided in The Livingston at 68-60 108th Street.
Trygve Lie was born in Oslo, Norway. He was recognized as a determined politician, labor leader, author, and government official, and served as United Nations Secretary-General from 1946 to 1952.
The U.N. financed Lie’s residency at Granston Tower through 1953, where he lived with his wife and two daughters. At the time, the General Assembly of the U.N. was based in the New York City Building in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Lie was a member of the West Side Tennis Club, and President Dwight Eisenhower was a guest at a luncheon in his honor in 1952.
Lie was well respected for his leadership during the early Cold War and Korean War. He supported the foundation of Israel and Indonesia, and worked on the withdrawal of Soviet forces in Iran and a cease fire in Kashmir. He helped drum up support for South Korea’s defense after its invasion in 1950, and advocated to end the Soviet boycott of U.N. meetings.
Another one of his pursuits was to have the People’s Republic of China acquire U.N. recognition after the Nationalist government was exiled to Taiwan. In 1950, Lie sailed aboard the Queen Mary on a mission to end the Cold War.
Lie was also the recipient of the Medal for Outstanding Civil Service, which is Norway’s highest civil award.