Last week, we took a deep dive into the Historic Preservation Commission’s interactive landmarks map to check out the historic landmarks scattered around Greenpoint. Unfortunately, not all of the storied buildings in our neighborhood are under protection from the city, which means they can be fodder for developers.
One such spot is the Huron Street Bathhouse (139 Huron Street), which is on its way to becoming a condo. The Bathhouse, Built 1903, opening 1904 and closed 1960, was a treasure of the City Beautiful Movement. That movement postulated that inspiringly beautiful public architecture and municipal amenities could uplift the poor, and inspire people of all means to be model citizens.
At the time, cleanliness was associated with good citizenship, yet, indoor plumbing and hot water were considered luxuries. In a city of cold-water flats and crowded tenements that often lacked bathrooms, residents had few options for bathing or hygiene. Accordingly, public bathhouses were a prudent response to a very real public health crisis.
And so: Clean, Beautiful Brooklyn. The bathhouse initiative was a city-wide undertaking. Twenty-Five baths were built around the city; 7 of them in Brooklyn. All were built in the Classical Revival Style, based on the Baths of Ancient Rome.
With two tubs and 87 shower stalls (25 for women, 62 for men) the Huron Street Bathhouse served over 1,000 people a day at its peak. After World War II, public baths fell into obsolescence. By 1955, they were no longer required by law, and by 1956, the Huron Street Bathhouse was the last operating in Brooklyn.
The Bathhouse closed in 1960, and more recently has been home to a framing company. Now it will start a new life as a condo.