Historian works to save old Brooklyn dairy murals

A historian is working to save the Empire State Dairy building from potential demolition amid a push to rezone East New York. The exterior of the former dairy factory at 2840 Atlantic Ave. features

News 12 Staff

Mar 8, 2016, 4:12 AM

Updated 2,997 days ago

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Historian works to save old Brooklyn dairy murals
A historian is working to save the Empire State Dairy building from potential demolition amid a push to rezone East New York.
The exterior of the former dairy factory at 2840 Atlantic Ave. features terra-cotta murals of pastoral scenes related to agriculture. Architectural historian Michael Padwee says two of the largest majolica-tile murals in the U.S. are located at the Brooklyn building. Majolica is earthenware with a tin glaze that has been decorated.
"Who would've thought that East New York had such a beauty right here," says Frances Nieves, who has lived in the area for 25 years and never noticed the tiles on the building. "Absolutely beautiful tilework, and that must have been placed one by one," she says.
Padwee fears that the murals could, ultimately, be destroyed under Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to redevelop the neighborhood. Some developers and city officials are already talking about renovating or possibly tearing down the building.
"This building is not protected," says Padwee, who wants the building to be landmarked. "A lot of them get destroyed for no reason other than profit, and I'd like to stop that." He believes the building's titles are part of an architectural treasure that should be preserved.
The owners of the building, which is now home to a plastic and tile manufacturer, say landmark designation would hurt their business, making it a challenge to sell the property or make needed renovations.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a hearing about the building on March 8. The meeting is the first formal step to determine whether the full commission will eventually consider landmark status for the former dairy.
Architects Theobald Engelhardt and Otto Strack designed the building, which is more than 100 years old.


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