Eberhard Faber factory cluster heard by Landmarks

Nearby demolition and development lent urgency to potential designation. On July 24, 2007, Landmarks heard testimony on the proposed Eberhard Faber Pencil Company Historic District. The proposed historic district comprises five buildings dating from the 1880s to the 1920s relating to the former Eberhard Faber pencil factory. The company moved to this Brooklyn location after a fire at its Manhattan plant in 1872 and remained there until 1956. The buildings feature stone lintels and terra cotta reliefs in the shape of pencils and the company’s logo, a five-pointed star.

The Department of Buildings issued permits in 2005 permitting the demolition and alteration of some former Eberhard Faber buildings, including an alteration permit for 58 Kent Street within the potential historic district. Buildings’ BIS system describes the work proposed for 58 Kent Street as a nine-story addition and interior demolition. The owners have already demolished two other former factory buildings.

At the hearing, speakers generally supported the designation. A representative from the Society for Industrial Archeology gave a brief history of the company, and called the complex “a symbol of quality and innovation.” Michael White, from the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, stated that the complex was “unique in that it comprises both 19th and 20th century buildings,” and that the main building “has long been an iconic presence in the neighborhood.” Lisa Kersavage of the Municipal Art Society brought old Eberhard Faber pencils to the hearing to pass around, and supported designation based on the complex’s role in Brooklyn’s industrial history, and for “its charming decorative details.”

The lone dissenting voice came from a representative of DL Labs, a tenant in one of the buildings, who claimed that Landmarks’ map was inaccurate, and that the interior of one of the buildings was abandoned and completely destroyed. Landmarks Chair Robert Tierney promised to look into the allegations and to clarify the boundaries of the proposed district. No date has been set for Landmarks’ vote.

LPC: Eberhard Faber Pencil Company Historic District (LP- 2264) (July 24, 2007).

CITYLAND Comment: Designation of 58 Kent Street by Landmarks would not revoke previously issued building permits.

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