The brick manufacturing firm that would later become B. Kreischer & Sons was founded by Balthazar Kreischer (1813-1886) in 1845. Kreischer was born in Bavaria and came to New York City in 1836, where he worked for a period as a mason. In the early 1850s, Kreischer was one of the first in the United States to produce fire brick, a fire resistant brick used in many industrial buildings. In 1853, Kreischer became aware of refractory clay deposits in Westfield, Staten Island. He acquired several tracts with clay deposits and purchased the rights to mine clay on nearby land. Two years later he established a brickworks on the Arthur Kill. As the factory expanded, the area became known as Kreischerville. By the time of Kreischer’s retirement in 1878, the company had become a major producer of building materials in the metropolitan area. Kreischer’s sons continued the firm, but financial problems forced them to sell the company in 1899.
Peter Androvette, who owned a number of shipping concerns in the metropolitan area, including the operation that handled raw and finished materials for Kreischer, acquired B. Kreischer & Sons at foreclosure, reincorporating the company as the Kreischer Brick Manufacturing Company in 1902. This ushered in the company’s heyday during the early twentieth century when it produced brick of all colors and types, along with ornamental terra cotta. The company’s products were used by architects and builders throughout the East and Midwest. The company’s prominence declined after the First World War, and the factory was closed in 1927.
Most of the Kreischer brick used in Ridgewood, including the Ridgewood North Historic District, is buff or amber-colored brick with smooth surfaces, laid with tight, flush joints. Rock- faced brick, also manufactured by Kreischer, was used in Ridgewood for details such as band courses and decorative panels.
Builders in Ridgewood used Kreischer brick consistently until the First World War; after that, they used wire-cut bricks produced at factories in Pennsylvania. These bricks had rough- surfaces and were laid with raked joints, producing a very different appearance.
The Ridgewood North Historic District has remained largely unchanged since its completion in 1914. Transportation to the area was enhanced with the opening in 1928 of the BMT subway station at DeKalb and Wyckoff Avenues, just across the Brooklyn border, which provided service to 14th Street in Manhattan. The only major alterations in the historic district include the removal and replacement of the historic storefronts on the ground floor of the buildings facing Fairview, Grandview and Forest Avenues. (Figure 19) The upper stories of these buildings and those on the residential side streets are largely intact. (Figure 20) Minor alterations include the installation of replacement windows and doors, the reconstruction or resurfacing of bluestone stoops and the removal of stoop and areaway ironwork.
60 This section is based on the following sources: Kreischer Brick Manufacturing Company, Plain and Ornamental Front Brick, Firebrick, Clay Retorts of the Finest Quality (New York: Kreischer Brick Manufacturing Co., 1902); Landmarks Preservation Commission, Kreischerville Workers’ Housing (LP- 1870), report prepared by Betsy Bradley (New York, 1994); National Register of Historic Places, Ridgewood Multiple Resource Area (Washington, D.C., 1983), report prepared by Donald G. Presa; and Heinrich Reis, “Clays of New York: Their Properties and Uses,” Bulletin of the New York State Museum, June 1930.
61 This section is based on the following sources: Joseph Cunningham and Leonard DeHart, A History of the New York City Subway System , Part II - Rapid Transit in Brooklyn (New York: Joseph Cunningham and Leonard DeHart, 1977), 55; and New York City Department of Buildings, Borough of Queens, ALT - 1588-1938, ALT 1486-1944, ALT 1633-1946.