Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tobacco Warehouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Front, street side facade of the renovated tobacco warehouse with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background
Tobacco Warehouse - Saint Ann's Warehouse
Back, park side facade of the renovated tobacco warehouse with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background
Tobacco Warehouse - Saint Ann's Warehouse
Interior of the renovated tobacco warehouse for Saint Ann's Warehouse
Interior of Saint Ann's Warehouse
Neighborhood: Dumbo
Address: 45 Water Street

The former tobacco warehouse, (ca. 1855) sitting in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, recently reopened as the theater space for Saint Ann’s Warehouse. The story of this building almost had a different ending. Although it was included in the Fulton Ferry Historic District in 1977, in 1999 the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced that the building would be demolished due to safety concerns after being damaged by a tropical storm.[1] I cannot find the reason for its survival but my guess is that the city, neighborhood or both protested its demolition. Like its proposed demolition, the building’s restoration was also uncertain. There were initially two competing theater groups interested in utilizing the space. After Saint Ann’s won the bid to occupy the old warehouse, neighborhood organizations sued to keep the building completely within the public domain. At one point it looked as though Saint Ann’s would not be moving in but eventually a comprise was struck and the building now houses the Theater.[2] A more detailed account of Saint Ann’s battle is well documented in Curbed’s archived blog posts if you’re interested (the related Curbed posts have since been removed). The theater is 25,000 square feet with a capacity for 300 to 700 people. In addition, the building hosts a multi-use artists' studio and an exterior courtyard (incomplete as of this post) that will be open to the public during park hours.[3]

References:
  1. Holt, Dennis "Old Tobacco Warehouse on B'klyn Waterfront, Relic of the 1850s, To Face Wrecker's Ball" Brooklyn Daily Eagle 23 September, 1999
  2. "Tobacco Warehouse" Curbed
  3. "Saint Ann's Warehouse at the Tobacco Warehouse" NYC The Official Guide

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