Turn-of-the-Century Neo-Classical Bank’s Designation Supported by Ownership

Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh

Bank’s construction quickly followed opening of Williamsburg Bridge; grand Classical facade composed of limestone and granite communicated stability and civic pride. Landmarks held a hearing on the potential designation of the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh on February 6, 2018. The bank stands at 209 Havemeyer Street in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.  The building was constructed in 1908 and designed by the firm of Helmle and Huberty. A 1925 addition continued the original design, and more than doubled the bank’s footprint.

Helmle and Huberty were a prominent Brooklyn-based architecture firm and proponents of the City beautiful movement. They were frequently commissioned to design institutional structures, and their other extant buildings include the individually landmarked Winthrop Park Shelter Pavilion and the Prospect Park Boathouse.

The Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh incorporated in 1864, and primarily served the working class immigrant community on the East River waterfront. Community leaders encouraged new residents to utilize savings banks, and institutions promoted the idea that depositing a dime a day could, with interest, eventually accrue to a substantial sum. The area’s population increased rapidly with the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903. The bank acquired the corner lot in 1906. The bank is set on a granite foundation and otherwise faced in Indiana limestone. Four fluted Corinthian columns support a pediment ornamented with modillions, dentils, incised signage and a clock.

The building’s few non-historic interventions include contemporary signage and alterations to the entrance.

Sam Charney, Principal at Charney Construction and Development, one of the owners of the property as Havemeyer Owner LLC, spoke in favor of designation as a “fitting tribute” to “one of Brooklyn’s signature buildings.” He further said the building was a source of local pride and a community centerpiece. He said the owners, who purchased the property in 2017, intended to incorporate the bank into a new mixed-use development designed by Fogarty Finger architecture. He said a new tower would be clad in white terra-cotta in an homage to the bank’s limestone facade. The project would make space for market-rate and affordable housing, office space, and retail space while maintaining the bank buildings prominence.

The Historic Districts Council’s Patrick Waldo testified that “it is remarkable that this building has managed to remain standing in spite of massive redevelopment aided by the City’s rezoning of this neighborhood.” Andrea Goldwyn of the New York Landmarks Conservancy spoke in support of designation and said the building would be served by Landmarks guiding the redevelopment project’s impact.

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan stated that Council Member Antonio Reynoso had communicated his support for designation to the Commission.

Chair Srinivasan closed the hearing without establishing a vote on designate.


LPC: Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh, 209 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn (LP-2598) (March 6, 2018).

By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law.)


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