The most beautiful old warehouse is in Tribeca

Gables, turrets, arched windows, weather vanes: what can you say about this spectacular former warehouse building but wow?

Built in 1891 on Watts and Washington Streets for the Fleming Smith company (see the monogrammed initials in the close-up below), it’s a jaw-dropping Romanesque Revival beauty with neo-Flemish touches—a style popular at the end of the 19th century, as the city looked back on its Dutch colonial roots.

Once a neighborhood of warehouses, the grocery trade, and food processors, Tribeca got its new name in the mid-1970s, according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, when New Yorkers began moving into the area’s colossal lofts and warehouses.

The Fleming Smith warehouse was the first in Tribeca to be turned into a residence. Got $3 million? You might be able to score one of the building’s co-ops. Take a peek at recent listings.

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8 Responses to “The most beautiful old warehouse is in Tribeca”

  1. Sean Sweeney Says:

    More precisely, TriBeCa got its name from the triangular shaped block of Lispenard Street between Church Street and Broadway. On City Planning maps it appears as a triangle.

    When submitting testimony to City Planning in the mid-70s to get zoning similar to their neighbors north of Canal Street, in SoHo, the residents of that block formed a block association called the Triangle Below Canal Association and shortened it to the TriBeCa Association.

    A NY Times reporter doing a story on the proposed zoning changes got a hold of the association’s testimony and assumed, incorrectly, that the name referred to the entire neighborhood, not just that single block.

    Once it appeared in the Times, the name caught on for the entire neighborhood.

  2. Zoe Says:

    Before I read your post & only had looked at the photo I said “Wow” Ephemeral 🙂

    When I first moved to the City (in 1980… We grew up an hour outside it but my dad worked for ABC & NBC & lived at the uptown hotels — Plaza & St.Regis & Carlisle etc.) my older brother (a musician & woodworker & sculptor) told me to always remember to “look up” because that’s where the amazing architecture & ornament is. That was probably the most elemental thing anyone ever told me about New York.

    What was the name of Tribeca before? (& Thank you Sean for that interesting comment… I never knew that either). Or did it not have a name? (Like the section of Brooklyn I once lived in that real estate agents named South Park Slope that then became known as the South Slope — which was almost under the Gowanus parkway/highway).

    • Sean Sweeney Says:

      Zoe, It was sometimes called the Washington Market area, although the old Washington Market was at the southern end of today’s TriBeCa, near Fulton/Vesey Streets and West Street.

      Or more simply, the Lower West Side, a term we never hear anymore.

      • Zoe Says:

        Thanks Sean. I worked for a fashion designer on Hudson Street down there in 1981 (which entailed climbing up onto a disused loading dock & up a very narrow rickety wooden interior stairway to her small industrial live/work loft — all of it probably illegal then). I vaguely remember the term ‘Lower West Side’ now that you wrote of it — although possibly I only read it in historical references such as yours.

    • Ruth-Ann Rosenthal Says:

      Good advice about looking up, Zoe. I keep reminding myself to look up while I walk around the city. It’s so easy to miss beautiful architecture if I’m not paying attention.

  3. luluhulu Says:

    Isn’t this the site of the wonderful restaurant called Capsuoto Freres? They were there since the 80’s. But then Hurricane Sandy flooded it’s wine cellar and foundation and it never re-opened. It was the end of an era and I remember one of the brothers being bitter that the city did not help more. We all lamented. Rumor has it that the old SNL cast dined there after the show.

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