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Greenpoint factory ‘penciled’ in as city landmark

The Brooklyn Paper
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A city panel has landmarked Greenpoint’s Eberhard Faber pencil factory and several surrounding buildings — just in time, one commissioner remarked, to protect the building from “development fever [and] fires.”

In addition to the most famous of the Eberhard buildings — the factory at 61 Greenpoint Ave. with its distinctive pencil-shaped adornments (right) — the Landmarks Preservation Commission also protected eight other 19th- and 20th-century factory buildings, placing them all in the “Eberhard Faber Pencil Company Historic District.”

The district abuts the Greenpoint Terminal Market, a warehouse complex that burned in a suspicious fire last year — an incident in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood that was evoked by Brooklyn Commissioner Elizabeth Ryan during Tuesday’s hearing.

“Development fever is raging through the neighborhood—as well as fires — so the sooner this is protected, the better,” she said.

Landmarked buildings can still be used for housing or manufacturing — indeed, that’s how the former Eberhard buildings are functioning today — but altering the facades requires city approval, which is not always so easy to get.

Under current Commissioner Robert Tierney, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has been focusing on protecting not only architecturally significant residential buildings, but on industrial areas and structures, such as this year’s landmarking of part of the Domino Sugar factory on the Williamsburg waterfront.

Indeed, on the same day that Eberhard Faber gained its landmark status, the Commission considered naming most of formerly industrial DUMBO a historic district (see story, page 16).

Eberhard Faber moved to Greenpoint in 1872 after its factory in Manhattan burned down. From Brooklyn, the company became “one of Brooklyn’s most important employers, and one of the world’s best known brands of pencils,” said Tierney.

Updated 4:33 pm, July 9, 2018
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