Building of the Day: 972 Dean Street

972-Dean-Street-1.jpg
The BOTD is a no-frills look at interesting structures of all types and from all neighborhoods. There will be old, new, important, forgotten, public, private, good and bad. Whatever strikes our fancy. We hope you enjoy.

Address: 972 Dean Street , between Classon and Franklin Avenues
Name: Pirika Chocolate Company
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North/Crow Hill
Year Built: early 20th century
Architectural Style: early 20th century industrial
Architect: Theobald M. Englehardt
Landmarked: No

Why chosen:
The Pirika Chocolate Company was one of several successful chocolatiers and candy companies with factory headquarters in Brooklyn. This building is located in Crown Heights commercial core, between Crown Heights and Prospect Heights. The Pirika Chocolate Company opened this first factory, their headquarters, in 1895. They are listed at this location in the 1916 Brooklyn Eagle Directory. This building is on the list of factories designed by Theobald M. Englehardt, one of Brooklyn’s busiest architects, mostly active in the Williamsburg/Bushwick area, where he grew up, the son of German immigrants. Englehardt designed homes and factories for many of the area’s largest brewmeisters and employers. In 1919, the NY Times told of candy manufacturers preparing for boom times due to the upcoming Prohibition laws being enacted. Pirika was building another factory on Dean Street, near Carlton. There is no exact address listed, but that building would have been among those torn down for AY, if it was still there. Unfortunately, candy was no substitute for alcohol, and the Pirika company failed in 1925, going into bankruptcy, owing over $500,000, a very large amount for the time. There was an investigation into how the business became so heavily mortgaged, and great protests from creditors, resulting in an investigation that went on for over a year. The assets were eventually sold. Today the building is for lease, and would make great small manufacturing spaces, studios or lofts.

The Crown Heights North House Tour is this Saturday, from 11-4. Starting point, St. Gregory’s RC Church, corner of St. Johns and Brooklyn. $20 advance, $25 day of tour. www.crownheightsnorth.org.

972-Dean-Street-2.jpg
Photo:worthopedia

972-Dean-Street-3.jpg
Photo: Brooklyn Eagle Almanac 1916

0 Comment

  • I have no idea if it was related to the sugar refineries in DUMBO and Williamsburg, but there was a huge candy/confectionary industry in the Wallabout/Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn. The Rockwood Chocolate Factory at Park and Washington is listed on the National Register (it is a collection of 5 or 6 buildings, now rental apartments) – in later years, Tootsie Rolls were made there. On Vanderbilt there is the former union hall for the candy and confectionary workers.

    The Matchett Candy factory (Wythe and South 2nd) is another great old building, and one of the few candy factories in Williamsburg.

    And maybe it is coincidence, but Wallabout is also where Sweet ‘n’ Low was invented and is still made!

  • True, WB, and we also had the Mason Mints factory in the Heights. I was going to do a BOTD on the Rockwood factory sometime in the future. I wanted to get some good pics first. Thanks for writing!

  • Forgot about Henry Street!

    I remember in the 80s and 90s, Rockwood was this ghost ship along the BQE. They started a renovation in the 80s, and it stalled out, so the buildings sat with no windows and a forest of steel studs for the interior walls.