Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Century of Changes at 30 Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights

Big changes are coming to 30 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights, the present home of the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. According to Brownstoner, a five-story, six-unit condo will rise in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, and an LPC hearing on the design is scheduled for today.

The photo above shows what 30 Henry Street (which includes 78 - 82 Middagh Street) looked like at the beginning of the 20th century. The automobile on the right looks to be 1920s or 30s.  The four-story building all the way to the left is still there today, and can be seen on the contemporary photo below.

In 1884, Mr. Charles G. Kahl ran an ad in the Brooklyn Eagle trying to rent out a small store for candy and stationary, with apartments for adults. Those interested were to see him at 82 Middagh, corner of Henry.

Those residing at 30 Henry / 82 Middagh over the years included Susan Dunn, a widow of carey Dunn (1840); John O'Neal, a glasscutter (1867);and Alexander Mills (early 1920s). Sadly, in 1922, Mills tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat with a razor. While the surgeons and nurse at Long island College Hospital were bending over him preparing to sew up his wound, he leaped from the operating table and out the window before he could be stopped. "Death greated him silently in the busy street." (Fulton History)

A 1938 Certificate of Occupancy shows at least part of the building being used for storage for the confection of bagels. The first floor was used for parking trucks. In 1951 the first floor was used for storing paint and tools; the second floor was used as an office staffed by 5 men and 2 women.

Here's the corner as it looks today, as the headquarters of the Brooklyn Eagle. (The property also includes the apartment at 78 Middagh Street.) It was probably built in the late 50s or early 60s. Notice the building's "stepped" roofline. The Midcentury Mundane blog describes the building in this way:

"This building in Brooklyn Heights at the corner of Henry and Middagh Streets is the most mundane of the mundane, but somehow pleasing with its stepped roofline, attractive brick color and original metal and glass display windows."

Ace Wire Brush Company

By 1964 the building was the home of Mr. Levy's Ace Wire Brush Company, where you could get five different sizes of radiator brushes, round or square chimney brushes, all types of brooms, or special brushes that cleaned the chimneys of over-sized model trains. A friendly woman named Martha helped behind the counter and sometimes gave away miniature brooms to neighborhood children. Several of the company's industrial lifts are still inside the Eagle offices.

Vintage-toys.com sells this historic Ace Wire Brush Co. blotter.
From the historical 1940s-era blotter shown above, it appears that the Ace Wire brush Company had its first factory on Cadman Plaza East where the Cadman Towers are now (it was called Fulton Street back then.)

Mr. and Mrs. Levy are gone, Martha has moved on, the children have sold the building, the Eagle will be moving, and a five-story, six-unit condo will be built.

Notice the new condo will fit in five stories where the building next to it, though the same height, has only four. Brownstoner has more details and renderings of the new condo.

The Brooklyn Heights Association thinks the new building's design is pretty blah. Executive Director Judy Stanton told the Brooklyn Eagle the building site "cries out for a distinctive and much more contemporary design than that which was shown to the BHA last week.

“Fortis has hired excellent architects in BKSK, and the BHA has respectfully asked them to return to the drafting board to create a building that celebrates our time."

- Top historical photograph of old Brooklyn heights, photographer unknown. Roughly 1929.
- Photo of present-day Brooklyn Eagle courtesy of Property Shark
- Rendering of proposed condo courtesy of BKSK via Brownstoner

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Anonymous said...

Cookie cutter pseudo "brownstone: design. False balconies too. Ugh. Generic just plain generic. Look at the building to its left! Look at the window details! New building? Ugh!

Anonymous said...

Celebrates our time? What the heck are the talking about? PR crap not beauty.