March 1, 2007

Demolition at Eberhard Faber

View north on West Street towards Kent Street.

Recently, the Department of Buildings issued a demolition permit for a portion of the historic Eberhard Faber pencil factory site. The permit covers a site that includes three buildings, all of which were once part of the pencil factory complex. It is not clear from the permit if the demolition is for all three buildings, or only one. In the past week or two, scaffolding has gone up around the building at the corner of Kent Street and West Street (the three story pink building at the left center of the photo above, and at the far left in the photo below). While this building is not the most distinctive or historic in the Faber complex, it shares a lot with an older two-story structure that is very characteristic of the Eberhard Faber buildings. That building (seen at the far left in the photo above) has the characteristic pedimented cornice with a yellow terra-cotta star at the center of the parapet, a motif that is also seen at 59 Kent Street in the photo below).


Curbed did a little sleuthing to find out what is in store for the site. Based on the rendering they found, the 2-story Faber building on West Street is history too. WPA showed this site to Landmarks almost a year ago, but so far no action. Kent Street F-W.jpg

Eberhard Faber Scaffolded

Scaffolding up at Eberhard Faber.

An update on our earlier post - here is fresh photographic evidence of the scaffolded West Street Buildings. This view is looking north towards the corner of Kent Street and West Street.

March 6, 2007

Eberhard Faber: The Future

Eberhard Faber Rendering.jpg
New Building at Kent and West Streets (rendering)
(Via: justinyc)

Some more information on the Eberhard Faber demolition site. Justinyc notes that the developer of the Kent and West Street site is none other than Isaac Katan. Katan, who has a rep in South Brooklyn [warning: very slow link], also wants to demolish the Domino Sugar factory. In the case of these Eberhard buildings, he already has the demo permits, and the scaffolding is up.

Meanwhile, no word from Landmarks on the designation of an Eberhard Faber historic district.

April 13, 2007

Eberhard Faber on LPC Calendar

Landmarks has just announced that the Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory complex is on their calendar for a designation hearing next Tuesday, 17 April. Time, TBA.

More info to follow (breaking, as they say).


61 Greenpoint Avenue (ca. 1930)

UPDATE: As noted below, Landmarks has announced that they will hold a hearing next Tuesday to calendar the Eberhard Faber Historic District (see map, below). The historic district includes the iconic pencil building at 61 Greenpoint Ave. (above), and the original pencil factory building at 37 Greenpoint Ave. (below). Also included are the buildings at 58 and 59 Kent Street, and the building at 104 West Street.

The designation does not include the buildings on West Street between Kent and Java (X marks the spot on our map). Developer Isaac Katan demolished two of these buildings within the last month, and has plans to significantly alter the remaining building at the corner of Java and West.

We will post more details on the hearing as they become available.


37 Greenpoint Avenue (ca. 1870)


The Eberhard Faber Historic District


58 Kent Street (ca. 1900)


59 Kent Street (ca. 1900)


104 West Street (ca. 1900)

April 17, 2007

Its Official - Eberhard Faber Calendared

A quick update on the Eberhard Faber Historic District.

At this morning's Landmarks Commission hearing, the Commissioners voted unanimously to put the complex on the calendar for designation consideration. The research staff made a brief presentation, after which there were a few questions from the Commissioners and the vote.

The district is not landmarked - yet. What this means is that sometime in the next month or two LPC will hold a formal hearing to decide whether or not the EFHD should be officially designated a NYC Landmark. In the meantime, the fact that the district is officially on LPC's calendar does mean that no alterations (or demolitions) can be undertaken without the approval of LPC. So no more funny business for the time being.

You can help make the designation of the EFHD a reality by sending letters of support to the Landmarks Commissioner, Councilmembers David Yassky (in whose district EF sits) and Jessica Lappin (who chairs the City Council's Landmarks Subcommittee) and Community Board #1. (WPA will post links to make this process easier.)

And, of course, you can testify at the Landmarks hearing, when the time comes. We will keep you posted.

July 20, 2007

Eberhard Faber Designation Hearing Announced


The Pencil Building (ca. 1930) - part of the proposed Eberhard Faber Historic District.

The Landmarks hearing for the designation of the Eberhard Faber Historic District will be Tuesday, 24 July 2007, starting at 9:45 AM. The hearing will be held at the Landmarks Commission's hearing room at the Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North (ID required for building entry). The J, M and Z Chambers Street station and 4, 5 and 6 Brooklyn Bridge Station are both under the Municipal Building; the R and W City Hall station is about a block away (sorry, no G train access).

For more on what is and isn't part of the proposed Eberhard Faber Historic District, please see our earlier posts on the subject.

Demolition at Eberhard
Eberhard on LPC Calendar
Eberhard Faber Claendared

July 24, 2007

NYT on Eberhard

Pencil factory, detail.
Photo: NYC LPC.

In yesterday's City Room, David Dunlap has an update on the Eberhard Faber designation.

The hearing for the Eberhard Faber designation is this morning, at about 10:00, at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North).

Also on the agenda for today is the actual designation of the McCarren Park Pool (almost 15 years after the first designation hearing (!), and close to a quarter century after the pool closed).

In other Brooklyn news, LPC has the calendaring of the DUMBO historic district on its calendar for this morning. Another very long-overdue designation.

Stay tuned.

August 18, 2007

Update on Katan's Eberhard Faber project

Eberhard Scaffold

You may remember that the proposed Eberhard Faber Historic District leaves out a few parcels. Part of a development project by Isaac Katan, two of the three parcels on West Street between Kent and Java have been demolished (shown in the foreground, above, pre-demolition), while the third (in the left background, above)has been altered, but not dramatically. It may be sloppy reporting, but this article on funding for the project would lead one to believe that LPC is designating the Katan site along with the rest of Eberhard Faber. Certainly they should - even with the proposed alterations, the Katan properties are part of Eberhard Faber's history.

September 26, 2007

LPC's Industrial Legacy

Austin, Nichols & Co. Warehouse
Designated by LPC, 2005

With the designation of the Domino Sugar Refinery Processing House, the Landmarks Commission has proven once again that it gets industrial heritage. Sure, they could have gotten a lot more, but its worth highlighting the fact that this is the fourth major industrial site in North Brooklyn to be designated in the past few years. And to the great chagrin of the beauty pageant promoters who believe that landmarking is only about "pretty" buildings, not all of these buildings are pretty. But they are all significant, locally and to the city (some are nationally significant).

Here's the rundown:

1. Hecla Ironworks administration building [pdf link] (designated 2004)
2. Austin Nichols & Co. Warehouse (designated 2005)
3. Domino Sugar Refinery, Processing House (designated 2007)
4. Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory Historic District (designated soon?)

Add to that the recent calendaring of DUMBO, and LPC Chair Robert Tierney is right to tout his commission's role in designating industrial properties. There may be other Hecla, Domino and Eberhard buildings that are not landmarks and should be, but lets give credit where its due.

Landmarks has also been busy with some of North Brooklyn's non-industrial sites of late. Witness the designation of the Williamsburg Houses (2003), the original Smith-Gray Building [pdf link] (2005), and the McCarren Park Pool (2007).

And lest Mr. Tierney rest on his laurels, we will point out that there are a lot more highly significant (dare we say beautiful) industrial buildings out there to designate. Not to mention a host of other buildings in our (until recently) neglected corner of Brooklyn. And Williamsburg is still without a single historic district (hopefully not for long).

October 22, 2007


Photo: dumbonyc

Next week, the Landmarks Commission will be holding a marathon public hearing/public meeting that will focus exclusively on designation of new landmarks and historic districts. By far the largest item of the day will be the long-overdue initial hearing for the proposed DUMBO historic district.

There is, of course, another small district that is scheduled to be designated. But all of that is a week away. In the meantime, here is architectural historian Francis Morrone on DUMBO.

October 25, 2007

Eberhard Faber

61 Greenpoint Avenue, detail.

As we mentioned before, LPC is holding a mega-designation hearing on Tuesday the 30th. In addition to the initial Dumbo hearing, Landmarks is expected to designate the Eberhard Faber Historic District. The Eberhard Faber district encompasses most (though not all) of the buildings of the former Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory.

The Eberhard Faber Historic District will sit side by side with the larger Greenpoint Historic District and the Astral Apartments, and individual landmark. The former is comprised largely of 19th-century residential buildings for the managers and owners of Greenpoint's factories and businesses. The latter was constructed by Charles Pratt to house the workers of his Astral Oil Works. All in all, the three designations encompasses factories, businesses, houses of worship and housing - forming a very unique view of a close-knit 19th-century community.

October 31, 2007

Eberhard Faber Historic District


61 Greenpoint Avenue (ca. 1930)

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted today to designate the Eberhard Faber Historic District. This is the latest in a series of designations of industrial buildings in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and beyond (and comes on the same day that the Commission heard testimony on the proposed Dumbo historic district).

The Times has the full run-down on designation day at LPC.

Brownstoner had a live report from the scene, which Curbed picked up.

The quote of the day, via Brownstoner, attributed to one of the Commissioners: "development fever is raging through the neighborhood — as well as fires — so the sooner this is protected, the better." Unfortunately, the designation did not come soon enough to protect two former Eberhard Buildings. Nonetheless, this is another significant designation for Greenpoint and North Brooklyn.

November 15, 2007

Eberhard Faber Designation Report

59 Kent Street (ca. 1910: F. Nelson, architect).
Photo: moufle

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has posted its designation report for the Eberhard Faber Historic District (warning: pdf link). As usual, LPC has done good and diligent work, nailing down dates and locating architects (although the report neglects to mention buildings such as this that were excluded from the district as the result of some prophylactic demolition.

Among the interesting items, LPC has learned that 60 - 64 Kent Street was designed by well-known Brooklyn architect Theobald Engelhardt in 1895. Engelhardt designed hundreds of buildings in north Brooklyn during his career (sound familiar?), including St. John's Evangelical Church on nearby Milton Street (in the Greenpoint Historic District). He also designed the North Side Bank at 31 Grand Street and the Weidemann Cooperage at North 12th and Wythe Avenue, two buildings that WGPA is advocating for Landmark designation (oh, and the Old Dutch Mustard Building (RIP).)

The Eberhard Faber designation, which the Landmarks Commission approved on 30 October, still has to be approved by the City Council.

December 18, 2007

Wednesday: City Planning to Hear Faber HD

The City Planning Commission will hold its hearing today on the Eberhard Faber Historic District designation. This represents the last step in the process before the designation goes to the City Council for final approval.

Where: 22 Reade Street, Manhattan
When: Wednesday, 19 December
Agenda [pdf]

June 23, 2008

HDC Summer Lecture: Our Latest Landmarks


Pencil Building.

The Historic District Council's first lecture in in its 2008 Summer Lecture Series features some Greenpoint flavor (and some industrial DUMBO goodness).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 6:00pm
Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street, Manhattan
Our Latest Landmarks: Recent & Upcoming New York City Historic Districts

HDC’s Executive Director Simeon Bankoff will present an overview of recently designated and calendared historic districts throughout New York City, as well as what’s next in the pipeline. This panel will feature some of the city’s most hard-working preservation activists as they discuss the landmarking process from a community perspective. Participants will include Doreen Gallo of the DUMBO Neighborhood Association; Paul Kerzner of the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation; Martina Salisbury, a tenant of the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company Historic District and preservation advocate; and a representative from the NoHo community.

The lecture is free, and there is a reception to follow. But space is limited, so reservations are required. RSVP at 212-614-9107 or kmorith [at] hdc [dot] org

October 7, 2008

Mystery Tile at Greenpoint Reformed Church

An intersting mystery at Greenpoint Reformed Church on Milton Street. The tiles in question were manufactured by Union Porcelain Works, whose president, Thomas Smith, owned the company. Union Porcelain was located on Eckford Street, just east of where McCarren Park Pool is now. In the 19th century, Greenpoint was a center of porcelain manufacture - one of the oldest such establishments was Faience Pottery Works, located at the corner of West Street and Greenpoint Avenue (and now part of the Eberhard Faber Historic District).

January 4, 2009

Star Building

star building.jpg
Star Building (Eberhard Faber).
Photo: Porter Hovey Polaroid Project

Williamsburg photographer Porter Hovey has been busy with her Polaroid camera, and has a blog dedicated to the project. In addition to this shot of one of the Eberhard Faber buildings (we're pretty sure its 59 Kent Street), there are a lot of other nice shots of Greenpoint & Williamsburg. Well worth a few minutes of exploration (definitely check out the Harte Building photo).

May 19, 2009

Singer Defaults on Pencil Factory Loan


Pencil Factory Lofts
Architect: Daniel Goldner Architects

Bad news for Greenpoint development - a lender is suing developer Baruch Singer for failing to complete the Pencil Factory Lofts project in a timely manner. According to the Real Deal, construction was to have been completed by January of this year. That has clearly not happened, though based on a recent pass by, the project seems to be pretty far along.

As originally reported by Vanishing New York, work on the project came to a halt about two weeks ago. The site itself was once part of the complex of buildings owned by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, but was left out of the landmark district because permits had already been pulled and work had started (including demolition of two smaller buildings). Luckily, the building that is to replace the former Faber buildings is a nice one (thanks to Daniel Goldner Architects), so for once we aren't losing something significant and getting a pile of banal in return. Having come this far, the neighborhood will be a lot worse off if the project does come to a complete standstill, so hopefully it will restart soon - either as a condo or as a rental.

Eberhard Faber