The mystery behind a Bedford Street stable sign

Bedford Street is a stunning historic block, but there is one building on this lovely Village lane that’s always piqued my interest.

It’s number 95, a circa-1894 brick beauty with a Victorian era cornice and ground floor brownstone stable.

There’s something else that gives number 95 such an old New York feel: the insignia above the stable doors, which bears the name “J. Goebel & Co. Est. 1865.”

So who was J. Goebel, and what did he do at 95 Bedford Street? The clue is in the three stacked cups in the fanciful sign.

No, he wasn’t a brewer, though the grapes under the cups seem to imply that. Julius Goebel was a German immigrant who either manufactured or imported crucibles made out of a rare kind of clay found in Germany.

Goebel operated his business on Maiden Lane in the late 19th century, according to Walter Grutchfield. His son, who took over for him after his death, moved the company to 95 Bedford Street in the 1920s.

That’s the decade when the building (originally a stable) was converted to office space and into apartments, per the 1969 Landmarks Preservation Committee report.

The established-in-1865 thing is likely a nod to the year Goebel started his company—and it could very well be the year he landed in New York, a turbulent year indeed.

[Top photo: Streeteasy]

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17 Responses to “The mystery behind a Bedford Street stable sign”

  1. Peter Bennett Says:

    Thank you, I have walked past that house practically my whole life and always wondered about it.

  2. The mystery behind a Bedford Street stable sign | Real Estate Marketplace Says:

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  3. The mystery behind a Bedford Street stable sign | Holiday in New York City Says:

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  4. Zoé Says:

    Very interesting! New York *was* the fine jewelry capital of America (& w/ only a few other rivals in the world). Sadly until just shortly after I learned the trade & began working in it (& watched the dollars begin to swim overseas…).

    I wonder if it is the same white clay used for porcelain. (Left unfired). As I know that was mined in Germany. (Hence they were the first to crack the secret of how Chinese porcelain was made). I never wondered what our crucibles were made from. Shame on me.

    I am wondering if he was an assayer. Which I noticed people are beginning to call a ‘metal refiner’ (more than ‘assayer’). Because how many crucibles can you sell to other people all day long (they last quite a while so not a lot of turnover); without wanting to fire them up?

    Where is Bedford Street? In the village? Or farther downtown? Was there an older Jewelery district downtown? (Vs. the one in the west 40s for years now). If so was this then part of that district?

    Great post! (I am biased).

  5. David H Lippman Says:

    Fascinating story and a lovely building.

  6. Bobby Says:

    Bedford Street. Walk past that house all my life while heading to the old Chumley’s Too bad the “new” Chumley’s is nothing like the old. Some things can never be reproduced

  7. mitzanna Says:

    Why does it say when I post the comment below that it’s a duplicate comment?

    Below is a paragraph from Wikipedia about Maiden Lane and the early jewelry districts in NYC. William Barthman, whose clock is still embedded on the corner sidewalk at Broadway and Maiden Lane is still there, only a few stores south on Broadway. There is still a jewelry exchange on Canal Street near the Bowery but most of those businesses are long gone.

    “Jewelry District
    From 1795 until the early 20th century, Maiden Lane was the center of the jewelry district. At Broadway, the bronze and glass clock embedded in the sidewalk by William Barthman Jewelers still keeps time. In 1894 developers Boehm & Coon erected the ten story Diamond Exchange Building on Maiden Lane, which was specially designed to accommodate the heavy safes used by gem dealers. According to a New York Times article in 1924, “the bride-to-be who could show a ring from Maiden Lane was thrice happy” because of the abundance of jewelry stores. In 1946 the New York City Police Department estimated that it was walked on by 51,000 people every weekday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

    The jewelry industry started to move north by the 1920s, but had previously and fruitlessly tried to move uptown in the 1870s and 1900s. This was in part because the buildings on Maiden Lane had begun to age, even in the 1910s. Because of the city’s rapid growth after World War II, this district was later moved to Chinatown on the Bowery and Canal Street, and to West 47th Street.

    Maiden Lane’s jewelry district was referred to in the 1936 American crime film 15 Maiden Lane.”

    • Zoé Says:

      Thanks for answering my question. I should have known Wikipedia would have an article on it! (Presumably in the ‘History’ portion of an article on ‘Manhattan Jewelry District’?).

    • Zoé Says:

      PS: So is Maiden Lane near Bedford? And then this building *was* in the old Jewelry District?

      • ephemeralnewyork Says:

        Bedford is quite a ways from Maiden Lane, it’s in the Village. But it makes sense Julius Goebel’s first building was on Maiden Lane, for its reputation as a jewelry district and probably other fine items as well.

      • Zoé Says:

        Thanks Ephemeral. That makes sense – because someone in this thread mentioned passing the building near Chumleys (in GV).

    • Zoé Says:

      The Wikipedia article ’47th Street (Manhattan)’ says there were three different jewelry districts before the 47th Street one (begun in 1941 by Orthodox Jews who had fled the Nazis).

      Two in the Financial District; the first & oldest one from the 18th c. on Maiden Lane (written of in the ‘Maiden Lane’ Wikipedia article you sourced). And later one on Canal (where my friends looked for a ring in 1990).

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/47th_Street_(Manhattan)#Diamond_District

    • Zoé Says:

      Re. your “duplicate comment” question. Sometimes one gets that message after having tapped ‘post comment’ already without realising one has. Two tiny taps when one thought they only did one. It’s easy to do.

  8. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I have no idea but I’m glad this made it up! Perhaps the plethora of jewelry dealers on Maiden Lane is part of the reason NYPD head Thomas Byrnes instituted his “dead line” at Fulton Street—stipulating that any known criminal who was found south of that point would be arrested ASAP.

  9. 63mago Says:

    Maybe this helps a bit. I wonder if there is a connection to them.

    • Zoé Says:

      So interesting – especially that advert! “The psychological moment has come!” (clicked the link within your link to see that).

      Also how he said at the bottom of the ad that people say the German clay is superior than the American clay he also sells for glasswork crucibles & after the war it will be available again. (It does have a higher firing point – hence used for porcelain which is more expensive due to rarity. It’s only found in a few places in the world).

      It’s interesting also that he advertises to glass manufacturers in it; whilst the company was originally located in the jewelry district (older one on Maiden Lane). Presumably he sold to the local jewellery industry also; though the ad says nothing about it. Perhaps he didn’t need to advertise to them.

      Goebels (Göbels / Göbel etc.) is a family name. Perhaps there is a link in the family tree – if one was to do the research on both of the families. (Crucible makers & the better known porcelain/ceramics co.).

  10. 63mago Says:

    Apologies, only on second reading I saw that you already have the Crutchfield-link, sorry.

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