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By Brian J Pape, AIA, LEED-AP

THEN: The Fleischmann family, owners of Fleischmann & Co., producers of America’s first distilled gin and commercial yeast, had purchased property within the Historic District Extension, at the southeast corner of Washington and Perry Streets, in 1883-84. Charles Louis Fleischmann (1834-1897) and his brother, Maximilian (1846-1890), were Jewish immigrants from the Austrian Empire who arrived in New York City in 1866 and found work at a distillery. Yeast and distilling are related, since grain alcohol is a waste product of yeast production. 

Fleischmann & Co. realized that New York City was a vital component of its national marketing. Graff, Fleischmann & Co. had earlier leased a distillery in Blissville, Long Island, which Fleischmann & Co. later purchased. Max Fleischmann moved to New York City to manage the East Coast business, with a first New York branch office at No. 39 Broad Street. 

No. 701 Washington Street (Theodore G. Stein) was built in 1887-88, as shown in the 1893 photo above, described in the New York Times in 1897 as Fleischmann’s “Eastern offices… and the headquarters of [its] yeast business.” In 1908-09, the company constructed the neo-Classical style, early reinforced-concrete stables building at No. 140-144 Perry Street (Arthur M. Duncan), and in 1910-11 built the lower two stories of the neo-Classical style, concrete-and-brick factory building at No. 695-697 Washington Street, also to Duncan’s design. The national headquarters of the Fleischmann Co. was moved here from Cincinnati in 1919. The latter structure received a two-story addition in 1921 by architect C. Aubrey Jackson, manager of the company’s real estate department, with Louis L. Tieman. 

During Prohibition, the Fleischmann Co. creatively launched a vastly successful “Yeast for Health” advertising campaign that profitably carried the company through these years until gin production was resumed in 1933. In 1929, the Fleischmann Co. was chosen as the centerpiece of a consolidation of food manufacturers by J.P. Morgan & Co. With the $430 million dollar merger, the new holding company was named Standard Brands, Inc., which also included the Royal Baking Powder Co., E.W. Gillett [Baking Powder] Co., Ltd. of Canada, and Chase & Sanborn, coffee roasters. Max Fleischmann was chairman of Standard Brands until 1935. This location became Standard Brands’ “Manhattan agency, New York division office, and order department.”

Text credit: Greenwich Village Historic District Extension Designation Report of May 2, 2006. 

Photo credit: King’s Handbook of New York City, Second Edition, 1893.

NOW: 701 Washington Street was demolished c. 1964-88; the site today is the corner courtyard, shown in the photo above.

The four-story 695-697 Washington Street, right in the photo, was converted into apartments by architect Peter Franzese in 1978. This building’s front facade is constructed of reinforced concrete, with paneled spandrels. Windows are set within metal frames, with pilaster mullions and transoms. It has a ground-floor concrete cornice, and a cornice at the roof set between concrete pilasters. The visible secondary sidewalls are constructed of brick (now painted) and have lot line windows. The areaway fence is historic and the window mullions, door surround and transom, metal stoop, stoop railings, and some of the one-over-one double-hung wood windows, appear to be historic. The building has a side yard to the north with concrete and metal balconies.

The neo-Classical style, early reinforced-concrete stables building at 140-144 Perry Street has also been converted to multi-family apartments.

Photo: Brian J Pape, AIA

Brian J. Pape is a citizen architect in private practice, serving on the Manhattan District 2 Community Board Landmarks Committee and Quality of Life Committee (but speaking solely in a personal, and not an official capacity), Co-chair of the American Institute of Architects NY Design for Aging Committee, is a member of AIANY Historic Buildings and Housing Committees, is LEED-AP “Green” certified, and is a journalist specializing in architecture subjects.

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