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Lidgerwood Manufacturing (Iron Works), Brooklyn|
Ferris between Coffey (formerly Partition) and Dikeman Streets
Lidgerwood Manufacturing was (is) a world famous maker of hoists and boilers. It manufacturing works were located on Ferris street in Red Hook Brooklyn from at least 1882 until 1927. They had offices at 96 Liberty Street, Manhattan.
Lidgerwood Manufacturing (or Iron Works) was not designated as such on the 1880 or 1886 Ward 12 maps. Later maps show that it was located at the intersections of Dikeman, Coffey (formerly Partition) and Ferris. The 1886 map does show a large brick building on the north west corner of Partition and Ferris but does not identify the structure. Lidgerwood Manufacturing was show between Dikeman and Coffey (formerly Partition street) on a 1898-99 map of Ward 12. See maps below.
Lidgerwood in the press
1874: Lidgerwood Manufacturing Co at 165 Pearl Street New York was advertising hoisting engines and mining machinery.
Growth of Lidgerwood as Seen on the City Maps|
There are some unlabeled buildings indicated on the 1869 map in the block between Ferris, Partition and Dikeman and the Buttermilk Channel, but they do not correspond to the position and shape of the buildings on the 1886 map. The 1880 map also shows a small unlabeled brick building in this block. There are unlabeled brick buildings on 1886 map. One of these buildings may be the building indicated on the 1880 map. The position and approximate size are the same, although the outline is slightly different. The buildings are still standing in 2013.
| 1880 City Map, New York Public Library|
"214" show the block bordered by Ferris, the Buttermilk Channel Dikeman and Partition (later Coffey streets).
Manhattan Chemical north of Dikeman and The German America Stores south of Partition (Coffey).
| 1886 City Map, New York Public Library|
Between 1880 and 1886 a large building had been added between Dikeman and Partition several lots west of Ferris.
Buildings had been added at the corner of Ferris and Partition and Ferris and Dikeman.
| 1898 City Map, New York Public Library|
Between 1886 and 1898 more additions were made. The red buildings are of brick and the yellow buildings are of wood.
The clear area indicated open space
| 1903 City Map, New York Public Library|
1903: Between 1898 and 1903 the wooden structure in the west end of the building had been replaced and enlarged by a brick structure.
The numbers "I", "II" and "III" indicated the number of stories. Specifically the number III indicates an addition of a story on the original building that ran from Partition to Dikeman. The number of stories of the buildings was not indicated in the earlier maps.
The two large "one" story buildings were as tall or taller than the two story building. They contained one story of greater height. The "main" building with the monitor roof was taller than the two story building that ran along Partition (Coffey) street.
Notice also the tracks from the building to the street and across
to the lot cater cornered to the main works.
| 1916 City Map, New York Public Library|
1916: The complex is virtually unchanged from 1903. However, there are multiple wooden structures on the cater cornered lot. Most likely it was storage for the company. The exterior image below shows several structures on this lot.
| Undated City Map, New York Public Library|
This map is not dated but must reflect the building prior to 1898 (as show on that map).
The fabulous thing about this plan is that it identifies all of the components of the works.
Lidgerwood was build in the American Round Arch style. Also known as Romanesque revival it was an outgrowth of the German Rundbogenstil introduced to American with the German diaspora to America in the early 1800s. The German Rundbogenstil and Reflections of the American Round-Arches Style by Kathleen Curran
This image shows the Main Works of the Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company Dikeman, Coffey, Ferris and Wolcott Streets Brooklyn New York. The buildings had multiple windows on the front and sides of the buildings, multiple sky lights and a monitor roofs with clerestory windows which combined to let in as much light as possible during the daylight hours. The monitor and numerous windows also let in fresh air and ventilated the building.
This rather romantic images shows not only the Lidgerwoood factory but the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. It also shows the houses on the east side of Ferris street where my husband's paternal grandmother, Gerturde Kettler, was born in 1889.
The Brooklyn Bridge was finished in 1883. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886.
The amount of smoke coming from the chimneys suggested that this was a very prosperous business.
The three largest components of the complex are basilica like structures with monitors. The building in the north west corner of the complex also has sky lights. As does the long two story building on the south west side of the complex.
Key components of an iron works were: foundry, forge, machine shop, erecting shops, boiler shops, power house, production sheds offices, pattern storage, drafting rooms and chimneys. These components were separate for a variety of reasons - a main consideration being fire prevention.
Some of these components of the Lidgerwood Iron Works can be identified in the above image:
By around 1898 time Lidgerwood also owned the buildings in the block east of Ferris and north of Dikeman and south of Wolcott. The 1886 map shows that block pretty much empty.
According to the undated map (which must be circa 1898) this block contained an iron clad wood structure on the north east corner of corner Dikeman and Ferris that housed a dynamo engine. The major part of the building was one store with an upper 2nd and 3rd floor at one end. On the south side of Wolcott was another iron clad wooden building with steel support columns and a trussed roof covered in corrugated iron. This large building contained various motors, a riveting tower, a furnace, and was labeled "electric boiler shop". There was also a brick lumber storage building and a brick building for pattern storage. The property also contained numerous wooden sheds with corrugated iron roofs used mostly for storage of things like coal, iron, and sand. It property also contained a wagon shed, a paint house, and eclectic hoisting engine shed, a wheelwright's shop, a rigger's shed, and a carpenters shop.
All of these building can be seen in the above illustration. The dynamo engine house has a chimney. The electric boiler shop has multiple smaller chimneys. The pattern storage building is just east of the dynamo engine house.
These two photos may be of the Lidgerwood "iron clad" wooden structure that housed the the electric boiler shop seen in the 1914 Lidgerwood letter head and the 1898 [?] map. The current Google map shows a structure similar in size, shape and position to the 1898 [?] map at this location.
COOK ELECTRICALLY = Lidgerwood building. To the right are the German American Stores.
"Ferris Street (rear of "Cook electrically" building, a Brooklyn Edison Company building) between Dikeman (left) and Coffey Streets (right). In the foreground is the Buttermilk Channel. August 6, 1937. P. L. Sperr."
In February 1926 the Edison Company bought at a cost of $700,000 an 11 acre plot on Ferris at the East River - between Sullivan, Walcott, Dikeman and Coffey. It covered four square blocks (three of them vacant) and one which contained the building of the Lidgerwood Manufacturing Co. It was to be the site of a new generating plant.
In 1927, 1936 and 1937 the Brooklyn Edison Company and the New York & Queens Electric Light & Power Company were advertising that cooking electrically was cheaper, cleaner, cooler, more accurate, more dependable, and more uniform that "traditional methods."
The buildings in 2013 as shown on Google maps. The monitor roofs are gone. The large court yard at the west end has been closed in. The facade of the building at the corner of Ferris and Dikeman has been changed, although the rear part of that building is the same.
This building can be seen in "Main Works of the Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company" above. This is the southern facade of the building show in the 1886 map and the above image. This front faces on Coffey street. The shape of the facade, the bulls eye window (or oculus), and the pilasters was typical of other buildings of the time in Red Hook. This is most certainly the original facade of the 1882 building.
The basilica form brick construction with central large doorway, side windows, a bulls eye window, clerestory widows, skylights, corbeled brickwork near the roof line and pilasters, was typical of the late nineteenth century industrial work shops in the American Arch Style. I have read that the oculus was included for light and ventilation. How much more light and ventilation could it have afforded in a building full of windows? The oculus was a common feature of industrial buildings of this period. I believe it is a nod to the oculi and Rose widows of the basilica churches of Europe and was part of the iconography of the American Round Arch Style. See Rose window From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Aquileia From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Other buildings which still remain in Red Hook with this configuration are:
Lidgerwood 2013 - photo by Maggie Land Blanck
This is the outside of the main works room. The brick treatment and the pilasters are consistant with the front of this building and the other two built at the same time. This side of the building forms part of the enclosure of a small yard.
This images shows the back and side of the older building that is on the corner of Ferris and Dikeman. The multiple small chimneys show in the 1889 view of the complex indicate that this was the forge.
Under the red overhang is a kind of "gateway" into the complex and the court yard. The red construction was added at a later date and houses the tin lined "office".
Another view of this part of the complex shows the "gateway" and the "office" added between the two buildings. It also shows a second story addition to the original building which ran between Partition (Coffey) and Dikeman street.
This is the facade of the building on the corner of Ferris and Partition (Coffey). Notice the similarity to the facade of the building facing Coffey street. This image concurs with the 1886 map of the building at the corner of Ferris and Partition (Coffey) which shows a L shaped building part of which completely covers two 25 by 100 feet lots and part of which half covers three 25 by 100 feet lots for a total facade on Ferris street of 125 feet.
The part of the building the right had three chimneys as seen in the 1889 view of the works.
The eyebrows over the windows, the pilasters and the brickwork near the roof line and over the large door opening is the same in both facades.
Part of the complex facing Dikeman Street. It is difficult to see in the above image but this building is studded with iron star braces.
This is the interior of the room on the other side of the wall in the photo above. It was being used as a photo or video studio, hence the black "stage".
1. General view of works. 2. Main Machine Shop. 3. Flanging Department. 4. Gorton Heater Shop. 5. Blacksmith Shop 6. Boiler shop. 7. Erecting Shop.
I bought this image in 2012 on eBay. Unfortunately it was lost in the mail and never made its way to me. I am still trying to get a better copy - Hopefully to pull out more detail. This image came from Scientific America 1880-1889
The proportions of these rooms were give in the Scientific America article of 1888. Main machine shop 75x200 feet with gallery and two sings, Erecting shop 50x 228 with gallery, Boiler Shop 50 x 290, Blacksmith 45 x 90, Gorton heater room 25 x 100, and storage 45 x 100
Lidgerwood Main Machine shop 2013 - photo by Tim Gregorio
This is the main room of the oldest building that goes from Coffey to Dikeman streets.
In 1888 this room was reported to have been 75 feet by 200 feet with two wings and a gallery. A "third" story was added to the northern end of the building, perhaps in 1891 when it was reported that brick story was added to the machine shop on Dikeman street.
The lighter wood on the ceiling covers the old monitor roof (which has been removed) and most of the skylights. Wooden trusses support the ceiling. The sky lights may have been added after 1888 - they are not shown on this building in the 1888 Scientific American article images.
In this image the tracks and beams that allowed the heavy machinery to be moved around can be seen. Traveling cranes were used to move large pieces of equipment and finished products. Just below and to the right of the light is a wheel on a track. It is connected to the beam that is marked "2 TON". Below the "2 TON" is a light green area that appears gridded. This is actually a window into what must have been an office of some sort.
This is the inside of the bull's eye window on the main facade facing Partition (Coffey Street). Clearly this window let in little light and had no practical function. Why was it added to the facade of this building? The Brooklyn Clay Retort and Pioneer Iron Works buildings have a similar window.
Most of the windows have been closed with brick, cinderblock or wood. There were some of the few which still had glass in them in 2013. This door and windows are in the inside courtyard of the western most structure which is a later addition to the complex. They are, however, similar to the windows with multiple panes shown in the Scientific America images of 1888.
This window is boarder up on the outside but the glass was left exposed on the inside.
Most of the complex is comprised of very large rooms with lots of windows - now closed up. There were remains at least three
lavatories as indicated by
the outlines one the walls of urinals, sinks and toilets.
There was what might have been some sort of a lunchroom or locker room on an upper floor. Along one wall were small toilet rooms. The room, which was of a generous size, was covered with wainscoting and had a tin ceiling.
Another room on a second floor at the opposite side of the complex also had wainscoting and a tin ceiling.
There were radiant heaters throughout the building.
This room, which shows one type of heater in the building, is completely lined with embossed tin. This was a later addition and sits between two of the oldest buildings over what appears to be the main entrance to the complex. See outside images above.
A wood (or metal) pattern (which was a replica of the object to be cast) served as a model for a machine part. Sets of patterns were usually stored in a isolated fireproof part of the building behind iron doors.
Where was the pattern room at Lidgerwood? It was noted that some of their patterns burned in 1884.
Gorton Heaters were used in homes churches, schools etc.
Lidgerwood Hoisting Machinery
There or a lot of images on the Internet of Lidgerwood steam logging and hoisting machines.
I wish to thank Tim Gregorio who invited us to tour the building with him and get some insight into this wonderful old factory and its workings.
The Lidgerwood Family|
1910: Obit of John Hedges Lidgerwood"John Hedges Lidgerwood was born in New York. He lived in Morristown since he was sixteen years old. He married a daughter of the late Judge Stephen Vail of this town. Judge Vail started the Speedwell Iron Works here in 1812 and in 1858 Mr. Lidgerwood began learning the iron business at Speedwell. He was employed there when Alfred Vail and Prof. Morse were working on their telegraph."
Some Lidgerwood Employees
1897: Lidgerwood Manufacturing Co.. 96 Liberty St. Wm. V. V. Lidgerwood. pres.: John H. Lidgerwood, v. pres. and treas.: Walter L. Pierce, secy.; John V. Beekman, supt. Manufacturers of Hoisting Engines, Boilers, Suspension Cableways. Logging Machines and Railroad Rapid Ballast Unloader. (The Mine, Quarry and Metallurgical Record of the United States, Canada and ... By Mine and Quarry News Bureau, 1897)
1904: Lidgerwood Mfg. Co. (N. Y.) (William V. V. Lirlgerwood. Pres.; Walter L. Pierce, Sec.; John H. Lidgerwood, Treas. Capital, $50,000. Directors: Willlam V. V. & John H. Lidgerwood, Walter L. Pierce, George H. Harriman. John V. Beekman, 06 Liberty 1904 (Polk's (Trow's) New York Copartnership and Corporation Directory ..., Volume 52)
John V. Beekman (c. 1842-1916)Publicity manager 1907: Frances F Coleman.
A Preservation Plan For Red Hook 2009 lists a Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company building designed by J. V. Beekman and built in 1882 at 84 Ferris Street.
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