A Look at Brooklyn, then and now.
Where would we be without the Brooklyn Eagle? Aside from their daily newspaper and yearly almanacs, the Eagle issued several series of postcards featuring Brooklyn buildings. These were sold in the early years of the 20th century before 1907. There were hundreds of black and white photographs of schools, churches, courthouses, jails, hospitals, clubs and museums. There were also a lot of businesses, such as banks, department stores, warehouses, factories, and office buildings. The great thing about these postcards is that the photographs were taken from every part of the borough, and provide a great resource, and a tangible record, especially for investigating what is no longer here. Such as this postcard on the left; which is a photograph of the large H. Batterman Company store, located at the intersection of Graham and Flushing Avenues, and Broadway, in East Williamsburg.
Batterman’s was an old store, founded in 1867. This intersection was not its first home; the first storefront was on Broadway and Ewen Street, which is now called Manhattan Avenue. Batterman’s was expanding, and needed larger facilities, and relocated to this location in 1881. One of its neighbors was the Broadway Bank, which was right next door on the Broadway side. Conveniently, the president of the bank didn’t have to commute far to get to his office. He was Henry Batterman.
Batterman’s, like many of Brooklyn’s largest stores Downtown, was a dry goods department store. They were the Eastern District’s largest retail dry goods store, and carried ladies’ clothing and accessories, fabrics, household linens, and children’s clothing. They also carried items for the home and accessories.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Batterman’s was a part of H. B. Claflin & Company, as was another Brooklyn store called the Bedford Company. Claflin was one of the largest and wealthiest drygoods wholesalers in Manhattan, with an immense warehouse operation in Lower Manhattan that employed over 700 people. They acted as middlemen to retailers, and had affiliates all across the country. One of their Manhattan affiliates was Lord & Taylor.
In spite of their size, or maybe because of it, in 1914, the Claflin Company went bankrupt, owing creditors over $34 million. The Brooklyn stores went into receivership, and continued to operate, at least for a while. The New York Times and other NY newspapers mention Batterman’s for several years afterwards. Batterman’s employees had several very active sports teams, a singing club, and other after-work activities, and they would occasionally make the papers.
I’m not sure when Batterman’s went under. Today, the original building may still be there, under layers upon layers of change and “progress”. The store has been cut down a couple of stories, if it is original. According to Property Shark/DOB, this building was built in 1900. I know the DOB is usually way off, and wrong, but the fact that they thought the building was some kind of old, gives rise to the thought that the original building, a shadow and shell of its former self, still lies below. GMAP