In another stroke for preservation, a former paint factory is protected

By Albert Amateau

The Landmarks Preservation Commission last week designated a 125-year-old former West Village paint factory as a New York City landmark.

The former F.W. Devoe & Co. factory, at 110-112 Horatio St. between West and Washington Sts., converted into a residential apartment building 24 years ago, is the latest in the commission’s actions that recall New York City’s industrial past, said L.P.C. Chairperson Robert Tierney.

“This commission has made it a point to protect similarly outstanding representations of the city’s manufacturing heritage, including the recently designated West Chelsea Historic District in Manhattan,” Tierney said at the Oct. 28 L.P.C. vote.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation hailed the former paint factory’s landmarking.

“This is another designation which grew out of the campaign to save the Far West Village spearheaded by G.V.S.H.P.,” said Andrew Berman, the society’s executive director.

The Horatio St. designation is the fourth of eight in the neighborhood that the society has been calling for since 2005, Berman said.

The four remaining sites, which the Landmarks Commission is committed to review in the future, include Westbeth, the one-square-block complex at Bethune and West Sts., formerly the Bell Telephone laboratories, converted in 1969 to subsidized housing for artists and one of the earliest large-scale adaptations of an industrial property to residential use.

Another Far West Village site still awaiting landmark protection is Charles Lane, a narrow cobblestone lane without sidewalks first laid out in 1797. The lane extends one block from Washington to West Sts. between Perry and Charles Sts. and is reputed to have the oldest paving stones in the city. Two rare, surviving Greek revival-style houses at 370 and 372 W. 11th St. at West St. dating to the 1840s are also awaiting L.P.C. designation.

The Devoe factory building was constructed in 1882-’83 on Horatio St. property the company owned since 1855. In business since 1754, Devoe manufactured paints and varnishes, brushes and mathematical and surveying instruments. The designated building was the last and largest in Devoe’s Horatio St. complex. Designed by the firm of Francis H. Kimball and Thomas Wisedell, it is an early example of the revived use of terra cotta, which Kimball & Wisedell reintroduced in the city.

Two of the buildings’ red terra-cotta decorative panels have images of the plant’s products, including paintbrushes, an easel and geometry instruments. The factory was converted into a storage warehouse in 1918 and into an apartment building in 1984.

Among G.V.S.H.P.’s achievements in its campaign to preserve the Far West Village was L.P.C. designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension in May 2006, including 45 buildings between Greenwich and Washington Sts. from Christopher to Perry Sts.