Last week the Landmarks Preservation Commission calendared the M.H. Renken Dairy Building at 584 Myrtle Avenue, at Classon. The LPC has not yet set a date for the public hearing. Here is their statement of significance on the building, which was built in the 1930s for milk supply and processing:
The Renken Dairy Company building is an unusual example of the Moderne style of architecture applied to a small commercial structure in Brooklyn. It was constructed as an office in 1932 for the Renken Dairy, established in Brooklyn in the early 20th century. One of several such businesses in the borough, the Renken Dairy’s location in Clinton Hill created a local source for the processing and supply of milk from farms outside the city for distribution to the local population. The Renken Dairy, like others from this period, originally consisted of a group of buildings where the milk was delivered, cleaned and pasteurized, and bottled, all while being kept cool by its own ice plants. This office structure and a nearby utilitarian garage are the only surviving sections of what was once a bustling complex.
Since milk was considered a vital part of children’s diets, sources of clean, healthful milk were crucial to neighborhoods where families lived. Before easy refrigeration, it was necessary to build these processing plants throughout the city. Dairies and their milkmen were a fundamental part of the lives of most children at that time.
This office building was designed by the firm of Koch & Wagner in the Moderne style, popular in the early 1930s. This style was a simplified version of the earlier Art Deco style, featuring light colors and straight lines to provide a sense of dynamism related to machines and their speed, seen as emblematic of the 20th century. The building design is expressed through horizontal bands of red brick against a light brick background and projecting or recessed planes on the building’s facades. The firm of Koch & Wagner designed numerous industrial, commercial and residential properties, primarily in Brooklyn and Queens, from 1910 until 1951. This building serves as a reminder of an earlier, more pastoral time in Brooklyn’s history, when most neighborhoods had a local milk processor for local distribution to insure the product’s freshness and quality.
Photo from the LPC