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to John B. Snook & Sons. Although Snook had designed a diverse array of buildings—including residential and commercial structures for some of New York’s most prominent families—his firm designed several manu- facturing lofts in the 1880s and 1890s that would have made it an appropriate choice for the Estey addition. These industrial buildings, now located in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District—including 8 Greene Street (1883-84), 12 Wooster Street (1883-84), 127 Spring Street/87-89 Greene Street (1886-87), 391-393 West Broadway/77-81 Wooster Street (1889), 151 Spring Street (1889-90) and 361 Canal Street (1891-92)—were utilitarian brick buildings; but like the Estey Factory, they were also designed with an eye toward detail, featur- ing patterned and textured brickwork, and contrasting stone trim that enliven their facades. 93

The Estey Factory continued to grow in the 1890s. In 1895, the company extended the building 50 feet along Lincoln Avenue with a one-story, 69-foot-deep brick addition that apparently provided a fireproof home for its woodworking department; at the same time, Estey constructed a new, one-story brick lumber room run- ning for an additional 38 feet along Lincoln, where it met a small, one-story brick building then existing at the southeast corner of Lincoln Avenue and 134th Street.94 Both the extension and the new building—which ap- pear to remain today as the base of the five-story portion of the factory north of the original building—were designed by Hewlett S. Baker of 492 East 138th Street.95 Little is known about Baker; he was described as “a property owner in the South Bronx” in a 1910 New York Times article, and as “a contractor and builder in the

Bronx” in a 1912 article about his death.96 B y 1 9 0 0 , t h e o n e - s t o r y b u i l d i n g s n e a r t h e c o r n e r o f L i n c o l n a n d 1 3 4 t h a p p e a r t o h a v e b e e n e x t e n d e d t o t h e e a s t . 9 7

The portion of the factory north of the original building remained at one story until 1909, when Simpson and architect S. Gifford Slocum raised it to three stories. Slocum, an architect of some note, is remembered primarily for his large residences for wealthy clients, including several fine Queen Anne-style residences built in the Saratoga Springs area in the 1880s. Born in Jefferson County, N.Y., Slocum studied architecture at Cornell University from 1873 to 1875, and by 1885, he had offices in Saratoga and Glens Falls, N.Y. In 1888, Slocum moved to Philadelphia while retaining his Saratoga office; between 1890 and 1909, he practiced archi- tecture in New York City. Simpson hired Slocum to design an alteration to his residence at 117 East 83 Street, in 1900.98 Slocum’s two-story addition to the Estey Piano Factory was described as being of “similar construction to the present building” in its Buildings Department application, and it demonstrates continuity with the floor below and with the original building in its segmental-arch-headed window openings, and in its similar decorative details, including pilasters, stone sills supported by corbelled brick courses, and patterned- brick stringcourses. A drawing of the factory following the completion of Slocum’s addition appeared in a 1917 Estey Piano Company advertisement. rd 99

Over the previous years, the Estey Piano Company had undergone several changes, weathering the

deaths—in 1890, 1896, and 1902, respectively—of Jacob Estey, Levi K. Fuller, and Julius Estey.100 The f i r m s w a r e r o o m s o r s h o w r o o m s , w h i c h h a d b e e n a t 5 E a s t 1 4 t h S t r e e t s i n c e t h e t i m e o f t h e c o m p a n y s f o u n d i n g , w e r e a t 9 7 F i f t h A v e n u e b y 1 9 0 0 a n d 7 W e s t 2 9 t h S t r e e t b y 1 9 0 9 . T h e y w o u l d m o v e a g a i n i n 1 9 1 2 t o t h e s i n c e - d e m o l i s h e d E s t e y B u i l d i n g a t 2 3 W e s t 4 2 n d S t r e e t a n d b y 1 9 1 6 t o 1 2 W e s t 4 5 t h S t r e e 1912, Estey pianos were being sold at Loeser’s department store in Brooklyn; in its advertising, the company took advantage of its historical association with the Estey Organ Company, stating that “the world-renowned t . 1 0 1 B y

Estey Pianos … are just as reliable as







the Estey Organs the Estey Piano

made famous by the same firm in the days of our Factory witnessed strife between its employees

par- and

management, as in 1912, workers struck Estey and other Bronx piano manufacturers that the piano makers’ union and refused to close their shop floors to non-union employees. 103




In 1917, John B. Simpson’s leadership of the Estey Piano Company came to an end, when George B. Gittins, the former president of piano manufacturer Kohler & Campbell, purchased a controlling interest in the firm.104 Gittins, an industry prodigy who was only 37 at the time he took Estey Piano’s helm, appears to have begun revamping the company’s product line almost immediately; an “at-the-factory” clearance sale held in November of 1917 was prompted by the company’s intention “to concentrate on the large-scale production of a few standard models.”105 Two years later, Gittins purchased M. Welte & Sons, Inc., which was originally the American arm of a German company that had invented the reproducing piano, a technologically advanced kind of player piano using special rolls that were able to express, to some extent, the subtleties of the renowned pianists who had “recorded” them. Following the 1907 introduction of Welte’s “Mignon” reproducing piano in the United States, dozens of the world’s most famous pianists made recordings for Welte, allowing Ameri-

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