Recently, I did a series of stories for Greenpointers about the twenty-fivemosthistoriclocalbuildings. One of the posts I wrote was about 85 Calyer Street, the residence of Thomas Fitch Rowland, whose company, the Continental Iron Works, located around the corner on Quay Street built the famous ship. In 1859, Rowland founded the innovative factory. Two years later, he would help make history when visionary Swedish naval engineer John Ericsson approached him about building a revolutionary ship in Greenpoint, the ironclad Monitor, which would revolutionize warfare and make wooden ships obsolete. Ericsson was a frequent visitor to the house and the many conversations in Rowland’s house led to the realization of Ericsson’s plan for the United States Navy’s first Ironclad battleship, which fought the legendary battle against the Rebel ironclad, the Virginia, in 1862. Thanks to the Monitor’s victory, the North won the Civil War and slavery ended. Rowland produced a number of ironclad ships locally, employing 1,500 workers at his works during the Civil War. Rowland also received the first patent for an underwater oil drilling well, an invention that had dramatic effects on the oil industry. He died a millionaire and the house changed hands a number of times.
The house has been sold and is evidently set for demolition. The new owner of the property, Daniel Kaykov of the Renovation Group, a Forest Hills-based construction firm filed demolition paperwork with the city on August 31st and additional paperwork for a demolition has also been filed. The frame house, which has had its facade remodeled, is an important part of local history and allowing its demolition would rob the community of an important landmark. Currently, the house has no landmark status from the city so its destruction could occur quickly. I described the awesome achievement that Ericsson and Rowland accomplished in my book Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past when they built the Monitor in just a hundred and one days, so I would feel great loss seeing the building be demolished. The Continental Iron Works was also demolished, so 85 Calyer Street is the last building that is a direct link to the building of the Monitor. I hope that the community can rally to save this authentic Greenpoint Civil War landmark.
As Greenpoint changes it becomes increasingly important to maintain our links to the past. One of the iconic features of Greenpoint is a permanent piece of street furniture: the large mounted cast iron clock on Manhattan Avenue between Meserole and Norman. The clock is called “The Bomelstein Clock” and it is the last street clock in Brooklyn and one of only four that survive in the city. The clock is not going anywhere—in 1981 it was designated a landmark.Continue reading →
One of the oldest buildings in Greenpoint and a landmark is struggling for survival. These days the 160 year-old Union Baptist Chruch at 151 Noble Street is closed and surrounded by a fence. It’s fighting demolition, but it has a champion. Pastor Mike Newberger is fighting to raise the money to save the church and its amazing historic legacy. Continue reading →
Progress on Kickstarter’s forthcoming Greenpoint HQ at the old Pencil Factory on Kent Street has been ongoing, but perceptible improvements have been hard to report for the last few months.
Well that and my lack of snooping around…
Architect Ole Sondresen has released a portfolio for the Kickstarter project. Visit the link to see an illustrated rendering of what their vision for the roof deck/courtyard seen above will morph into.
This isn’t the only urban design project Kickstarter is getting behind. Check out these 6 recent Kickstarter projects for cities from This Big City.
Follow (intermittent) progress reports on Kickstarter’s new Greenpoint based HQ at buildingkickstart.
Fellow Greenpointer Nathaniel Ziering tipped me off that Kickstarter is moving their headquarters from Manhattan to Greenpoint! The fast growing company provides crowd-sourced funding for creative projects, many of which have come from Greenpoint. In March, plans were approved for Kickstarter to renovate 58 Kent Street, a Landmarked, vacant building located between Franking & West streets. As you can see from the picture, this one could really use a tune-up! Kickstarter’s move to Greenpoint is a big vote of confidence for the neighborhood, will be great for the local economy and continue the momentum of businesses choosing Brooklyn as their new home. Continue reading →