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The Red Hook, Merchant, and Beard and Robinson Stores

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by Redhook Waterfront
November 4, 2013
Category:   Waterfront

The Red Hook Stores

The Red Hook Stores - 480-500 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (GMAP)

The 5-story Red Hook Stores, originally known as the New York Warehouse Co.’s Stores, was built by William Beard in the 1870s as part of the major expansion of storage and warehousing inside Erie Basin and along the Red Hook waterfront after the Civil War.

The Red Hook Stores from water

Like many warehouses of its kind, the building was set back from the bulkhead with the long façade facing the water so that ships could unload goods for storage directly onto the adjacent docks. The building’s dramatic brick façade features row upon row of arched windows with iron shutters. It’s heavy timber mill construction was typical of mid- to late 19th-century industrial buildings; massive square yellow pine columns fitted into cast iron “shoes” support heavy girders over 20 feet long. The building enjoys a mix of residential and commercial tenants, which include the Fairway supermarket.

The Merchant Stores

The Merchant Stores - 175 Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (GMAP)

Pier 41 (also known as Merchant Stores) was built by Col. Daniel Richards in 1873. Richards is also credited with developing plans for both the Atlantic Docks (site of today’s Red Hook Container Terminal) and Erie Basin, the two waterfront improvements that brought about the emergence of Red Hook as a major shipping and warehousing center in the mid-19th century.

The Merchant Stores from water

The property consists of two brick warehouses, a 3-story section to the west and a 2-story section to the east. Modern day tenants include the Red Hook Winery, Horus Bronze, and the O’Connell Organization’s HQ.

In the early 20th century it was home to one of Red Hook’s largest employers, the Morgan Soda Co., later known as White Rock Beverage. There are still Red Hook old-timers who recall the lazy summers of their youth when they would swim up Buttermilk Channel to the pier, pinch a case of soda and float it back on an inner tube to Edison Beach at the foot of Dikeman St.

The Beard and Robinson Stores

The Beard and Robinson Stores - 133 Beard St. aka 421-499 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn NY 11231 (GMAP)

The Beard and Robinson Stores were built by Jeremiah P. Robinson and William Beard in he 1860’s and 70’s and were eventually founded in 1872 during a surge in dockside warehousing after the Civil War. Far from the farms of the Midwest, the Beard and Robinson Stores were part of a complex of grain terminals, warehouses, wharfs and shipyards constructed by Beard to accommodate goods and materials bound for New York Harbor via the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. That’s why they call it Erie Basin.

The Beard and Robinson Stores from water

Today, the stores stand as a reminder of an era when Red Hook provided the most modern shipping facilities of the day. The Beard and Robinson Stores retain much of its historic character, with 250 restored arched iron shutters and the retention of the original beams and massive supporting timbers. Coffee and cocoa beans can still be found in the cracks of the original floorboards. Modern day tenants include Hot Wood Arts and NY Water Taxi.