Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Warehouse, now residential
Address: 470 Pulaski Street
Cross Streets: Stuyvesant Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard
Neighborhood: Stuyvesant Heights
Year Built: 1909
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
The story: Bedford Stuyvesant, which includes Stuyvesant Heights, is so large that one could concentrate on it alone and still have architectural examples that run the gamut of style and history.
This part of Bed Stuy was called the Eastern District back in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century, this particular location was considered part of Bushwick.
Whatever one wanted to call it, it was a busy place with a life of its own. A bit removed from Bedford’s center at Fulton and Bedford, yet not really part of East Williamsburg, either.
The homes here were for the most part modest and middle class, and the needs of the community were served by local businesses.
In 1909, Charles E. Bowman filed to incorporate his new business. He issued $50,000 worth of stock, and got enough investor money to build this handsome building for his moving and storage business.
1980s tax photo, Municipal Archives
Before this building was constructed, 470 Pulaski was the site of a wood-framed house, one of many that still stand in the neighborhood. In the 1980s tax photo above, the ghost of a similar building can still be seen on the wall.
The storage warehouse is five stories tall, with nicely spaced windows and subtle decorative brickwork framed panels between the stories. The building originally had three loading docks on the ground floor where shipments were received and loaded.
City people have always needed extra storage, and often need a place to store furniture and goods when they are in the process of moving. Charles E. Bowman provided both, as well as moving services.
Examine the life and times of a furniture moving and storage facility and you might not expect to find drama, but there were some episodes here nonetheless.
Charles Bowman was arrested for contempt of court in 1910. His warehouse facility was in the middle of a lawsuit filed against a moving picture theater owner on Bushwick’s Broadway.
The plaintiff in the case had obtained a court order to remove chairs and other furnishing in the theater, in anticipation of it being sold.
Another judge had reversed the order, but when the theater’s men came to the warehouse to retrieve the chairs, Bowman would not allow entry. The next day, a squad of police came to retrieve the chairs, but Bowman had moved them somewhere else.
He was arrested, and ordered by the court to produce the chairs and pay a $100 fine.
In 1916, a two-hour strike here by the local Teamsters Union brought the warehouse’s operators to the bargaining table. The workers got a new contract. Unlike other contract “negotiations” going on in other parts of Brooklyn, this was calm and ordered.
Brooklyn Eagle ad, 1933
A year later, the warehouse was once again in the middle of a dispute. But this one had a tragic outcome.
Anthony Maximini and his wife Katherine were having marital problems. They were both young, in their late 20s, and had married when barely out of their teens.
Their marriage disintegrating, they had separated several years before. He went home to his mother, and she rented a furnished apartment. They reconciled, and then separated again, this time divorcing.
When they separated the second time, their furniture went into storage at Bowman’s. Katherine insisted that the furniture was hers, most of it purchased with her own funds, and she wanted it back. She filed a suit against her ex to retrieve her stuff.
Anthony had always been jealous. His wife was pretty and blonde, and had no problem attracting men. One of them was a 30-year-old stock broker named Arthur Sullivan. He was divorced as well, and the two started dating.
Anthony began stalking them. There were public incidents. Arthur’s friends warned him to be careful and take precautions, but he dismissed their concerns.
On July 25, 1917, Anthony Maximini walked into a restaurant on Tompkins Avenue where Sullivan and his ex-wife were having lunch, pulled out a gun and shot both of them. He was heard telling Sullivan, “I don’t want her, but you can’t have her either.”
Sullivan died at the scene, with two shots to the chest and one to the head. Katherine was shot in the neck, the bullet going through her face, shattering teeth. But she was still alive.
Maximini ran, but the police caught him a few blocks away. He told them it was all because of the $900 worth of furniture in Charles E. Bowman’s warehouse. Katherine wouldn’t leave him alone, and he just couldn’t take it anymore.
Katherine lived. Anthony Maximini probably didn’t.
Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark
The warehouse stayed in business at least until 1942, the last time the name Charles E. Bowman Storage appears in print.
The 1980s tax photo above shows a business still there – Mazel Tov Moving and Storage.
In 2005, the building was purchased and converted into housing. Today, the building has 30 residential units.
Top photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark; photo below by Google Maps