Archive for April, 2012

Storied Boards documents the history of lumber that is salvaged from dismantled structures in the New York City area. The research follows the journey of a log, from it’s evolution as a tree species to a building and design project in the 21st century. The scope of the research involves the natural history and anatomy of the original trees, early American logging and lumber industry, construction, the individual buildings and structures where woods are reclaimed and related areas. Tracking re-uses of the lumber to new building and design projects maintains a living history of the this form of material culture. Research for each of the structures is a work in progress conducted by the Sawkill research.

The structures primarily span from the Erie Canal era (1832, 211 Pearl St.) to modern times (NY Public School scaffolding planks c. 2005).  Some are rare architectural treasures, others are rarely given a second look – but there wouldn’t be another building like it again. Every stick of lumber has a story to tell – whether about a building (862 Washington Ave., NY), a city neighborhood (1099 Leggett Ave., South Bronx), a structural icon (a Park Ave. rooftop water tank), a person associated with the site (P.S. 17, Henry David Thoreau School), or the timbers and trees themselves – prior to becoming the structural heart woods of a world class city.

 

coneyisland_12x121
Replaced:
2010

Wood: Brazilian Ipe (Tabebuia chrysantha), Cumaru (Dipteryx, odorata) and
Greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei)

History: The Coney Island boardwalk was dismantled recently – a three block stretch at the heart of the amusement area that included Nathan’s Hot Dog stand, Cha Cha’s Bar & Cafe, and Shoot The Freak. The fabled boardwalk (installed in the early 20th c. and then replaced in WWII), is made from Rainforest hardwoods, has been transformed into benches, decking, flower planters, and now modern furniture.
Coney Island has recently been in the spotlight, with NYC buying back a prime area from Thor Equities. Preservationists are campaigning for the city to incorporate the classic features of the original amusement area into future development.
The Dutch name for the island was Conyne Eylandt, or Rabbit Island, due to the large populations of wild rabbits, which were eventually wiped out. Now environmental activists charge that animal and wildlife species are still being made extinct, not on Coney Island, but in the distant Rainforest, where the removal of a whole acre of jungle will often yield just a single useable Ipe tree.
For this reason, they are now succeeding in weening NYC away from the use of these exotic lumber products. Seventeen miles of boardwalk line the boroughs, making NYC the largest consumer of tropical Rainforest woods in the U.S. Most NYC boardwalks are now replaced with concrete. The stretch of Coney Island boardwalk, however, will still use Ipe.
Video clip of Coney Island Boardwalk demolition

Deconstructed: 2010

Wood: Long Leaf Pine (Pinus palustris) / 3 x 12 x 10-20′ & 12 x 14 x 15′

History: The factory built at 3251 Broadway was constructed of brick, blue stone, and longleaf pine for William Riedell by the architecture firm of Thom & Wilson. Thom & Wilson was a successful firm noted for prolific production over stylish innovation and flair. In 2005, the architecture critic Christopher Gray referred to the firm as “architectural contractors.”2 The five-story structure was unassuming and modest and was occupied early by tenants such as Bradley, Currier, and Company who produced window and door sashes and the Empire City Woodworking Company who made cabinets. In 1915 a listing in The Horseless Age, likely the first automotive magazine ever published, placed the Universal Shock Eliminator Company at 3251 Broadway. The ambition of the company was apparent and while its prized product was the Shock Eliminator their legacy is undoubtedly the car bumper which the company patented in 1927.
The Horseless Age reported in January 1920 that Demonstrations of the Universal Shock Eliminator, which, its makers claim, gives extra tire miles numbering into the thousands, attracted favorable comment from visitors to this booth. This device was used on U.S. Army armored battery Cadillac cars for service at the front. The manufacturers claim to this shock eliminator the advantage that it can be applied to the extreme front of chassis in addition to rear, enabling the four extreme points of the car to be held in flexible suspension. The makers say of this device: “It is a well-known fact that every jolt transmitted to the passenger is first received by the tires. Minimize the jolt by the application of the U.S.E. Shock Eliminators and you will lessen the tire consumption and maintenance cost considerably.
Despite a promising start the Universal Shock Eliminator Company vanished from the motor trade magazines by the late 1920s. In 1934 the companyʼs owner was listed as
Inglis M. Uppercu who owned the Uppercu Cadillac Corporation, which sold and assembled Cadillac automobiles. Uppercu later started the first international airline called Aeromarine Airways that, among other feats, took passengers in boat planes during the Prohibition Era to the Caribbean for “liquor tourism.”
– Mitchell Hulse
Photos: (l)Cadillac Armored Vehicle with U.S.E. technology. Dual cylinder shocks mounted on single-bar bumper are the shock eliminators. Photo from http://www.landships.freeservers.com/ Davidson-Cadillac_trigsby.htm (r) Sawkill Lumber Co.

modernsuppliers
Dismantled:
2010

Wood: Antique Pine, Southern and Western (Pinus resinosa)
History: 1099 Leggett Ave. is located in Hunts Point, a peninsula in the South Bronx in New York City. The address at the corner of Leggett Ave. and Barry St. was recently home to the Modern Suppliers Inc., a large hardware company that recently moved across the street, and was replaced by a scaffolding supply company at the site. In the 1940′s, the location was occupied by a large lumber company. Further research is currently in process.
The area is home to 50,000 residents; Hispanic (one of the highest concentrations in NYC), Black, White, Asian, American Indian, Alaskan Native (close to 100) and over 300 people of two or more races. More than half live below the poverty line, which has created at least two one problem- two prisons with a third planned. Over 800 industrial businesses are on the peninsula. The New York City Terminal Market, one of the largest
food distribution facilities in the world, moves fresh fruit and vegetables from almost every American state and 55 foreign countries.
Going way back, Europeans settled Huntʼs Point in 1663, buying it from the Wekkguasegeeck tribe. The land was later given to Thomas Hunt Jr. George Fox (1624–1691), founder of the Quakers is said to have preached in the area in 1672, hardly imagining the parade of prostitutes, drug dealers, gangs, mobsters, arsonists and others on the same site 300 years later. In the 19th century, New Yorkers were attracted to Huntʼs Point as a luxury destination. Tiffany (of jewelery fame) had land here. This came to an end after World War I when a train line was built nearby, and apartment buildings replaced mansions, streets replaced meadows and Huntʼs Point.
There are a number of non profits operating in this section of the South Bronx providing the area with hope – Per Scholas, Inc., Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), Rocking the Boat, and many others.
Adapted from Wikipedia “Hunt’s Point, South Bronx”

Demolished: 2012

Wood: Antique Spruce (Picea glauca) and mixed softwoods / 3 x 9 x 4-6′ & 3/4 x 2 1/2′′
History: Most recently home to the Mars Bar. Historical summary to follow.
Photos: (l) urban75.org (r) Sawkill Lumber Co.

Log Log is a project of Sawkill Lumber Co. to document the history of reclaimed lumber from dismantled structures in New York City. The scope of the research includes the natural history of common tree species, the logging and lumber industry, and the deconstructed buildings or structures where wood is sourced. Tracking re-uses of the lumber within new building and design applications is also included.  The work is conducted by Sawkill Lumber Co. and student interns.

Storied Boards NYC documents the history of lumber that is salvaged from dismantled structures in the New York City area. The research follows the journey of a log, from it’s evolution as a tree species to a building and design project in the 21st century. The scope of the research involves the natural history and anatomy of the original trees, early American logging and lumber industry, construction techniques, the individual buildings and structures where woods are reclaimed and related areas. Tracking re-uses of the lumber to new building and design projects maintains a living history of the this rich and authentic form of material culture. Research for each of the structures is a work in progress conducted by the research team.

The structures primarily span from the Erie Canal era (1832, 211 Pearl St.) to modern times (NY Public School scaffolding planks c. 2005).  Some are rare architectural treasures, others are rarely given a second look – but there wouldn’t be another building like it again. Every stick of lumber has a story to tell – whether about a building (862 Washington Ave., NY), a city neighborhood (1099 Leggett Ave., South Bronx), a structural icon (a Park Ave. rooftop water tank), a person associated with the site (P.S. 17, Henry David Thoreau School), or the timbers and trees themselves – prior to becoming the structural heart woods of a world class city.

Demolished: 2006
History: In 1883, Henry Gurdon Marquand, a banker, railroad executive and among the founders of the MET, began his private stable at 166 East 73rd an unusual work by the architect Richard Morris Hunt.  This block of 73rd Street became one of the most populated stable streets in New York.
Marquand died in 1902, and his estate sold the stable to the publisher Joseph Pulitzer, then just completing his own mansion at 11 East 73rd Street. When Pulitzer died in 1912, his $17 million estate included the stable, valued at $68,000, with two brown mares appraised at $125 and $100, a bay at $65 and a chestnut horse at $75. He owned no automobiles, but had three carriages: a landau worth $50, a victoria worth $40, and a hansom worth $10.

In 1924 the MacDowell Club — an institution supporting the MacDowell Colony, the artists’ retreat in Peterborough, N.H. — bought the old Marquand stable. In 1979, the Landmarks Preservation Commission included the Marquand stable in an area landmark designation in 1981. Robert and Ellen Kapito bought the building for conversion to a two-family residence and have embarked on a most unusual effort. After chipping off the stucco and exposing the raw, damaged brick, they are planning to have it sanded down to reveal the original deep molten red. It is rare to see a building so fully resurrected from so deep a grave.

Adapted from the New York Times (Christopher Gray, June 3, 2007)Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/realestate/03scap.html
Wood: Antique Long Leaf Pine / 2  1/2 x 11 x 12′+
Photos: (l) nytimes.com (r) Melanie Einzig

stockdistillery_12x12_1000-e1351072492614
Disassembled: 2009

Wood: Antique White Oak (Quercus alba) and Cypress (Taxodium distichum)
History: In 1946, two twin brothers, Mario Morpugo and Bruno Morel opened a warehouse in Brooklyn to import brandy and vermouth, with the mission ‘to bring the fruits of Italy’s finest liqueurs, spirits and wines to America’, Bruno built the company up to be a leading importer of quality drinks.. The brothers emigrated from Triste, Italy, shortly before World War II and fought for the United States during the conflict. After opening shop, they worked with the Stock label, known as a premier vermouth distiller throughout Europe. Following the success of their operation, in 1958 they moved to 58-58 Laurel Hill Boulevard in Queens and opened a distillery to make their own alcohol, where there for the rest of their lives.

Stock Distillery Co. itself was founded in 1884 by grant of Austro-Hungarian Empress Maria Theresa, given a charter to sell its beverage as ‘Cognac Medicinal.’ At its height, the Stock operated 18 plants in 15 different countries. In 2007 the company was bought by Oaktree Capital Management, a private equity firm with in excess of $58 billion in assets under management (at June 2008), and consolidated under Heritage Brands, Inc. and then changed to Stock Spirits Group USA, Inc. The distillery in Queens has been converted to largely office space and the casks were removed in 2009.and which was founded a few months earlier to provide strategic mission, vision and direction.
The casks, now 54 years old, were made of white oak and cypress. Though it’s difficult to tell where the wood was coming from during the post-war era, it is likely that they are North America.
White oak is found from southern Quebec west to eastern Minnesota and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas.  The wood is strong, tough, heavy and durable, making it perfect for use as a cask. It is also has a tight cellular structure that makes it water- and rot-resistant, allowing for the curing of fine spirits, including wine, whiskey and vermouth.
Cypress is a very versatile wood, known for its durability. It generates its own preservative oil, cypressene, making it naturally resistant to insects, decay and the elements. It is found all over the world and in a variety of different species.
 – Luke McGeehan

Demolished: 2007
Wood:Eastern White Pine (Pinus Strobus) / 4 x 12-14″ x 18-20′
History: 1832 Greek Revival commercial warehouse. Pearl Street formed the original border of New Amsterdam, where pearl shells washed in from the sea and were used to pave the road.
The neo-Classical business buildings at 211 Pearl Street (built for the soap maker William Colgate) was a last remnant of the Pearl Street dry goods district of the early 19th century, and a valuable relic of New York and the nations early commercial history.
With the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, New York City would ‘become like a funnel through which the wealth of the Western World would now have to pass.’  The surge of commerce created a remarkable surge in growth ‘…as the narrow lanes of the old city were transformed into the first district in the world devoted exclusively to commerce.’  Fifty years after the American Revolution, these same Greek Revival styled warehouses began to rise block after block along Pearl St., and by 1835, 70% of the nations trade passed through New York City.
 The ‘New Counting-House’ architecture in the Greek revival style was inspired by a number of converging factors; America’s fifty-year Jubilee celebration, a renewed appreciation of democracy’s origins in Greek antiquity, support for Greek independence from Ottoman rule in the 1820′s, as well as the popular trend for ancient Greece in England.
The American historian Paul E. Johnson provides the following Squib History of the Pearl Street mercantile district.
The Pearl Street merchants were not ship owners and importers (Those merchants were on Front Street). Pearl Street bough specialized goods (hardware, wine, finished cloth, and lots of other things) from the saltwater merchants and wholesaled them to storekeepers all over the country. They got their start after the War of 1812, when the British “dumped” cheap imported goods at New York. But they got their biggest boost when the Erie Canal connected them with towns and commercial farms in the huge region drained by the Great Lakes. The canal and the New York market commercialized agriculture in a large part of the northern United States. Wheat and other farm products came over the canal, into New York, and out to national and international markets. The boats going the other way were filled with consumer goods: not just necessities but carpets, wallpaper, upholstered furniture, mirrors, finished cloth for curtains, tablecloths, soap, and napkins, sets of dishes and flatware, and on and on. The farmers and villagers in that region created a unique rural middle-class culture – largely out of tastes and goods that they procured from Pearl Street. Storekeepers from that region made yearly trips to Pearl Street (it became known as an outpost of Ohio) to buy the stuff that was “civilizing” western New York and the Old Northwest – with the result that a huge portion of the profits from northern commercial agriculture stayed in New York City. Thus establishments like that at 211 Pearl Street conducted the trade that linked the commerce of the seaport with the commerce of the American interior. New York didn’t just move goods on the ocean. The city sold a very large portion of what commercializing Americans bought. The combination of overseas commerce and burgeoning domestic trade established New York as the commercial capitol (not just the biggest seaport) of the United States after 1815, and Pearl Street was the center of that trade.
In colonial times, the American patriot tailor Hercules Mulligan lived at 218 Pearl Street. Mulligan specialized in uniforms for high ranking British officers and was a member of the Sons of Liberty during the British occupation. He was said to have saved the life of General Washington on two occassions. A very young Alexander Hamilton also boarded with the Mulligan Family while attending Kings College.
By 1920, the once “Famous Old District” became known as ‘The Swamp’. New York School artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns occupied loft space at 278 Pearl Street in the early 1950′s.
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