Friday, January 06, 2012

A Glimpse Inside The Landmarked Coignet Stone Building On Third Street In Gowanus

Historic Etching of Conglon building
The Coignet building in all its glory. An etching from 1873.
(Thanks, Marlene)
Historic photo of the Coignet Stone Company Building
Coignet Building
Coignet Building
Coignet Building
Coignet Building

I am so sorry, everyone, but I have been asked to remove the photos of the interior of the building. I know! Major disappointment.  Everyone was so excited to get a glimpse. 

Late this morning, I was alerted to the fact that there was a demolition truck in front of the landmarked Coignet Stone building on the Whole Foods site.  I immediately grabbed my camera and walked over to the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street to check it out.  
Indeed, a crew was at work inside and was hauling debris out to the truck.
The owner of the N & M Demolition Company of Staten Island, who was standing outside, told me that he was a friend of the building's owner and had been asked by him to secure the inside of the landmark.
N&M's owner allowed me to take a look at the heavily damaged interior.
Except for the door molding and a wonderful curved staircase, not much original detail remains, but even in its decrepit state, this neighborhood gem still has incredible potential.  Most of the damage appeared to be water related.
For quite a few years now, the historic structure has been deteriorating, its beautiful ornate fa├žade slowly crumbling away. Its owner, Richard Kowalski, of Beach Haven, N.J, had signed a Memorandum of Lease with Whole Foods back in 2005, when the company purchased the land surrounding the building in order to construct one of their food markets. Under the lease agreement, Whole Foods was to restore and repair the old house.  The work, however, has been postponed till recently. In early 2011, the roof was replaced, which was the first encouraging sign.
The 1873 building was designed by William Fields & Son and housed the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company, which occupied five acres along the Gowanus Canal. In more recent history, it was home to the Pippin Radiator Company.
The Coignet Stone Company building was landmarked in 2006 by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. You can read more about its history here.


Lisanne said...

Thanks Katia!

Matthew said...

The real glory of the building is that it's made of Coignet's signature concrete. That sucker is a rock! The interior is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting these photos! For years, I had been curious about what the inside of that building might look like.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I hope you extracted something in exchange for agreeing to take the photos down (like a tour of the building later on). IANAL, but I'm not sure they have grounds to force you to do so.

elise said...

What a drag you were asked to take the pictures down - that would have been historic - getting a glimpse of the inside. I am sure there is a tremendous curiosity. But Katia, you are such a trooper to have gone there at a moment's scoop. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us why they? wanted the pics taken down? And just what was the demolition company doing there? Are they tearing it down?

Anonymous said...

Could it be the owner is embarrasses by the condition of his property--that he allowed such deterioration under his watch? There has to be some level of shame there.

Katia said...

Well, I had permission from the site manager to enter the building. I asked if I could take the photos, told him that I was going to post them on a neighborhood blog and gave him my business card.
But the owner of the building later asked that they be taken down.
Too bad. These photos are part of the Coignet building's history and I know a lot of people were interested to see them. I'll try to get back in there once the building has been renovated.
The demo was just inside, not on the outside. The site manager said that he had been asked to make the building safer.

chickenunderwear said...

Did the owner say why he wanted you to take down the photos. I am sad I missed them

on a totally separate topic, my verification word is fatme. That would be the old me :)

typehype said...

I love your blog. I'm not a Brooklynite (Queens)), but it's still wonderful to find out another historic building in NYC is scheduled for restoration. As I scrolled down your series of photos and came to the one with the demolition truck, I thought, "Oh, no." Then, what a pleasant surprise! Thanks for this posting and thanks to this building's owner for brokering this deal. It will probably be one heck of a Whole Foods Market.

Manny said...

I lived on 3rd st for a few years and would pass by this building all the time. It was such a different building than everything else around it and wondered what was going to happen to it. I was always waiting for the day when I would walk by and it wouldn't be there anymore. I didn't know it was landmarked and expected it to be gone when Whole Foods came in but it's great to hear that the building won't be going anywhere!

Mandad said...

Why were you "asked" to take the photos down? And why did you comply? ??

Katia said...

As I mentioned before, I had permission by the site manager to enter the building and to take photos. The owner contacted me after I put them up and said I did not have his permission.
Since it's private property, I thought it better to comply.