Ward Baking Company Building
|Ward Baking Company Building|
|Address||800 Pacific Street|
|Town or city||Brooklyn, New York|
On March 26, 2007, developer Forest City Ratner planned to start abatement as a prelude to demolition of this architecturally and socially significant historic building, for its "Atlantic Yards" project in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York. The current plan is to use this demolished site along with a wider swath of demolitions to create "interim surface parking" for construction workers and staging, during Phase I of the project. There is no deadline for the termination of that interim parking.
What follows is research on the building undertaken by local residents in 2004 in an attempt to landmark the building. This attempt did not succeed in front of what many believe to be the overly-politicized Landmarks Preservation Commission of the City of New York.
In 1911, the Ward Baking Company building at 800 Pacific Street was built as an example of a modern industrial facility. The founder, George S. Ward, a captain of industry and soon-to-be baseball magnate, brought a team of architects to Europe for inspiration and they designed this building on the long boat ride home.
In a 1921 Ward Bakery Publication called The Story of our Research Products, company writers bragged about their founder, who had “the courage and the pioneer spirit to erect the first sanitary and scientific bakery in America.” The same publication describes the New York factory as “the snow-white temple of bread-making cleanliness.”
With 4 acres (16,000 m2) of area divided between its six floors and basement, the factory employed hundreds of New Yorkers. And with its capacity to turn out 250,000 loaves per day, it fed hundreds of thousands.
800 Pacific Street lies in a narrow corridor of Prospect Heights that once housed several major industries interspersed with historic brownstones. Now this area is primarily residential, with a sprinkling of small business utilizing the soaring industrial spaces. The Ward Baking Company Building is now a storage facility.
The former Ward’s Bread Factory stretches from the south side of Pacific Street to the north side of Dean Street, between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues, in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. It lies along a former industrial strip comprising three long blocks of Pacific and Dean Streets, characterized by large and architecturally magnificent[according to whom?] industrial structures built in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Within two blocks of the Spalding Building lies the Prospect Heights Historic District, a “cohesive district composed of single-family row houses and multiple dwellings almost all of which were built during the final thirty-five years of the nineteenth century” as described on its State and National Registers application.
The Ward’s building is six stories tall, with a façade of glazed white terra cotta tiles. Graceful Grecian-inspired arches run the length of the building, front and back. Ornamental detailing runs the length of the building. At one end stands a 120-foot (37 m) smoke stack, previously used in the baking process.
It has six floors, a basement, and sub-basement, with a total area is more than 4 acres (16,000 m2).
Windows that once contained glass or glass blocks have been filled in with cinder blocks. The interior has been altered to allow for a moving and storage business.
In 1911, George S. Ward, President of the Ward Baking Company, and a team of architects returned from a European tour with plans for two great baking plants for the New York area. One was built in that year in the Bronx, the other in what is now Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
“We were gone for 30 days and when we returned the plans were completed,” Ward related to a journalist from The Baseball Magazine in 1926. “They were made literally in mid-Atlantic.” As evidenced from the graceful arches, the architects had been inspired by Greco-Roman designs.
Mr. Ward did not do things small. “We invested two million dollars in our New York venture before we turned a wheel or gained the market for a single loaf of bread,” he told The Baseball Magazine. “The day we started our great plants we loaded a hundred wagons with bread and sent them out, instructing our salesmen to give the bread away as samples. The next day we sent them out again, this time to sell bread. We have been selling bread ever since.”
The two New York plants each had a capacity of 250,000 loaves per day. In 1913, the combined output from Ward’s 13 factories around the country would bake enough loaves in one year that “if placed end to end, would [be] … nearly enough to twice circle the globe at the equator,” as reported in The Baseball Magazine. One reason for Ward’s success was the new, scientific baking methods the company pioneered. In 1909, George S. Ward consulted with scientists at the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, PA and eventually set up fellowships so that scientists could study the relationship between water hardness and fermentation, and other questions inherent to goal of producing consistent, top-quality bread and cake for the entire nation. By 1916, the company set up its own Research Products Department with four scientists and several assistants.
Engineers developed innovative machinery that churned out millions of identical loaves and allowed Ward’s to advertise something unusual for that time: bread “untouched by the human hand.”
Thanks to his methods of both baking and business, Ward was an American success story, starting with a small bakery in Pittsburgh and building one of the most successful companies in America. His personal passion was baseball, and he went on to become vice president of the Federal League. The Baseball Magazine said he was “foremost among the masters of big business who make the Federal League.”