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Francis Morrone: A Historian's Plea for the Preservatn of the Tobacco Warehouse Ruin

Francis Morrone: A Historian's Plea for the Preservatn of the Tobacco Warehouse Ruin

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Published by: info1139 on Aug 25, 2010
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A Historia!'s Pleafor thePreservation theTobacco of Warehouse Ruin TheTobacco Warehousq thenorthsideof WaterStreetbetween Iaspection oo New Dock andDock steets in Brooklyn,wasbuilt in c. 1860andwasorigitrally a five-story strlctule reduced somepoitrtitr the20In at century two stodes. onc€hadan to It appearance imposingasthat ofthe adjacent as EmpireStores the east. manyyears to For the Tobacco Inspection Warehouse operated theprivatefirm of David Dows& was by Co. andwasknovn asthe FultonStores. theadjacent To doch knownasthe Tobacco Dook,came lighte$ fiom New Jersey bearing fieightsoftobaccofrortrKentucky, Illinois, Irldian4 Missouri,Virgini4 andTennessee hadbeensetrtby train to tle thal western shoieofthe Hudsoa River.By 1872the FultonStores about20%08,000 housed hogsheads) ofthe total tobacco cominginto New York City ard Brooklyn.By 1890,tle only tobacco ihspection warehouses operation thethenindependent ofBroollln h in city weretheFultonStores RedHook's Stanahan and Stores, Atlanlio Dock. at Therearesevexal ootablefeatures ofthe Tobacco Inspection Waxehouse have that commended for laadnark stafus. asmos!ofour surviving"Dutch farmhouses" it Just werebuilt in theEnglishcolonialperiod somostofour "Civil War-erawa.rehouses" wercbuilt afterthe Civil War; theTobacco Inspection Warehouse orc ofthe few that is actuallystoodduringthe wa!. Of thendd-to la1e 19'-centurybrick warehouses ooce that characterLed Brookltn (knovn asthe'halled ciql' for its waterftontbelt of preciousfew survive.Some warehouses), protectionandhavebeen lacklaodmark converted vaJious to lew uses(suchasthe late1860s warehouse RedHook1trat iu now houses Fairray marketwili aparheds up above). the And thentherearelandmarked warchouses, asthe aforementioned such EmpireStores, arelelalively wholebuf that awaitadaptive reuse. uniquecharacteristic A ofthe Tobacco Warehouse Inspection is tllat it is a perfectruio. Many years ater il nas reduced height,the wa.rehouse's in roof caved Ieavingonly portionsofthe stluctule'soriginalbrick walls,with litde or i!" tro1hilgreBaioiry thal wasEotpad ofthe originalbuilditrg. As sucb,it possesses the powerofauthedicity asa getruine artifactofBrooklyl's importan! andfast disappeali1g, waterfr history. oD1 Anotrg landmark sftuctules New York todayareonly a few otherexamples in of preseryed ruins. Oneis the Pamchute Jumpat Coney Islaad;another the Smallpox is Hospitalat the southem ofRoosevelt end Island.These powerfirlplacemaking are presences. Ruinsandftagnetrtsthatarenot designated lardmarkshavebeenpreserved elsewhere New York: Notableexarnples in includerheold Long IslandRailroadgantries, long-gotre catfloatoperatioos, GantryPlazaStaleParkin LongIslard in 'rtich served City, andthepreservatiod architectural of Aapents by the afist Mary Miss in her large Arts-for-Tralsitprcjectin theUnion Square subway statioo. Thereis thusample precedent thepreservation for ofruins in New York Sr.:ch ruins andfiagrbeDts shjkea unique noteof aesthelic emotional alld appeal the cityscape. in TheTobacco Inspection Warehouse-liketherailroadgantries eueens-yaands io withio theboundades park,in this case partof BrooklynBridgeParkourently uqder ofa a development. significaolcharacteristic A ofthe warehouse,stoqgly believe,is that it I mayseryeasa uniquelandscaleelement witlfn thepa*, both asa ftagmed ofan

that,owing10its ftagmenlary impodaothistodcalbuilding andalsoasa structure the character, not utrdulyobscure visuallyopednatue of tbis portiofl oflie does Warehouse shouldbe rhe Inspectioo waterftod park.Thus,I stongly believe, Tobacco asI'r enclosed Irot preserved its present, roofless state, newlyroofedoverto beleused in gift-to the state, a temendousasset----a as i.4 structure. shouldbe regalded, its present It in plarnersof Brookb'nBridgePark.It is seldom possible New York to adaptsomething pmctices in Erlglald by JobnRuskinadvocated I q'Lcenrury like t}teconservation of $/illiam Monis, andthe Societyfor the Protection AacientBuildings,in which ruirs and else weretrotto betansfomed into something but protected veleratedaspoignant punctuations Whensucha circumstalce-itr this casea ruin that ofthe living landscape. poraand-We\ts itself, we might do well to seize the is alreadywithin desighated The ofthe wban enviroDment. raw kind ofenriohmeot uoique opportunityfor a speoial Brooklyn'spa$tcouldendowthe park monumental beautywith whichthis ruio evokes p@ctical*of and foreverwith a feature--both omamental asa venuefor gatherings, inimitablemagic. Fraocis Morrone to atd Architectural historiaD atthor of An ArehitechtralGaidebook Broouj'n July12,2010

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