Building of the Day: 450 Union Street

1904 map. New York Public Library

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Formerly Thomas Paulson & Son, Inc., now the Green Building
Address: 450 Union Street
Cross Streets: Corner Bond Street
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: 1931
Architectural Style: Utilitarian factory
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, but part of proposed Gowanus Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places

The story: Gowanus has a lot of great factory buildings, with the best of them, architecturally speaking, dating back to the 19th century. According to some sources, this one dates back to that time, as well, but some research shows that that is not true. It was built in 1931, but that takes nothing away from its size, placement in the overall street grid, and charm.

In 1849, when the Gowanus was first being developed, this part of the area was a swampy part of the Gowanus Creek. The canal was dredged and the bulkhead was built around 1869, raising up the land. The first company to use the site may have been the Cement Drain and Water Pipes Company, which shows up on a map after 1869. No buildings stood on the location.

The block of Bond Street between Union and President was taken up by the T.H. Lidford Coal and Wood Yard, which shows up on Brooklyn city maps from at least 1888 until 1904. The entire block consisted of wood framed buildings, including two very long buildings that held the company’s supply of coal. One of these long buildings occupied the same space as today’s building.

From 1905 to 1915, the site was home to the John Hynes Granite works. He had a long, linear cutting shed here, where granite was cut into everything from curbs to headstones. The granite works were replaced by the Atlantic Ice Company until 1924. Thomas Paulson & Son, a brass foundry, bought the lot in 1929 and built a garage here. Paulson filed DOB papers to convert that garage to an office and factory, and this building was constructed in 1931, replacing a series of smaller buildings on the site.

Paulson & Son, Brass Founders and Engineers made brass plumbing parts, railings and other brass products for home, restaurant and industrial uses. According to the current tenants, many of Paulson’s products went into the décor of many of Atlantic City’s casinos and their gambling tables. Thomas Paulson & Son was located at this site until 1994.

All of the companies that occupied this site were able to take advantage of the canal to move product and raw materials in and out of their facilities. Although all of them could have succeeded in any location, the canal was a vital part of operations, as it was for all of the companies located along its winding paths.

In 2002, plans were afoot to tear the building down in order to build a luxury apartment tower. The community was not in favor of that plan, which began a two year discussion with the city over Gowanus’ zoning and residential development. In the end, the permit to permit residential development on this site was not granted. The building had been painted green by this time, although it was peeling and covered with graffiti.

In 2008, the building was purchased and transformed into an events space. It’s called the Green Building, appropriately enough, with a shiny new coat of paint. The bright olive green structure is easily spotted here in Gowanus, and can be rented for weddings, parties and other events. Inside, most of the long factory building is an open gathering space, with exposed brick walls, exposed beam ceilings and gleaming concrete floors. Four large chandeliers provide the main lighting for the space. The building also has a food prep area and a speakeasy lounge. In addition, the property is currently for sale, as we noted in a recent post. GMAP

(Photo: Google Maps)

1904 Map. New York Public Library

1904 map. New York Public Library

1980s ta photo. Municipal Archives

1980s tax photo. Municipal Archives

2006 photo: Kate Leonova for Property Shark

2006 photo: Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

Photo: Google Maps

Photo: Google Maps

The Green Building, interior. Photo:

The Green Building, interior. Photo:

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