|The restored Hubert Street facade. Built as two stories, it was the original structure in 1866 -- photo by Alice Lum|
But in 1867 Trinity Church sold the park to the Hudson River Railroad for $1 million. The railroad built a freight depot and the elegant neighborhood was no more. Rapidly the homes were replaced with warehouses and small factories that took advantage of the proximity to the railroad.
At the same time, private express mail companies like Adams Express, Wells Fargo and American Express were rapidly growing. Founded in 1850 in Albany, American Express established its headquarters in Manhattan at Jay and Hudson Streets and essentially enjoyed a monopoly on the shipment of express goods in the state for two decades.
Even before the freight depot was built, American Express erected at two-story stable at Nos. 4 to 8 Hubert Street in 1866, designed by architects Ritch & Griffiths. The stark brick building did not pretend to be anything other than a utilitarian building with little ornamentation.
The newly-completed Hudson River Railway depot sat approximately one block away, directly across from the house at No. 157 Hudson Street. The owner of the house was quick to react, along with other wealthy residents. The commodious residence—25 feet wide—sat on a lot that extended 109 feet back, in the middle of the block between Hubert and Laight Streets. The homeowner sold the property on April 20, 1870 for $24,750 in cash, which The New York Times deemed “very cheap at the price.”
While American Express was operating its stable from Hubert Street, the United States Army established a cavalry rendezvous local recruiting office around the corner at No. 157 Hudson Street in the 1880s.
Although funds transfers and long-distance finance had already become an important part of the firm’s operations—the American Express Travelers Cheque was copyrighted in 1891—American Express recognized the need to enlarge the Hubert Street facility in 1898. Architect Edward Hale Kimball was commissioned to extend the stable through the entire block along Collier Street to Laight Street.
|The original, Hubert Street entrance in 1937 long after Kimball's renovations--photo NYPL Collection|
|The American Express bulldog appears in terra cotta relief on both the Laight and Hubert Street facades -- photo by Alice Lum|
Only three years later, in 1902, the building was enlarged again. Architect Charles Romeyn widened the Laight Street side. He also added a long, narrow extension through the middle of the block to No. 157 Hudson Street where the Cavalry had been headquartered, creating a T-shaped structure.
|The enlarged stables stretched the length of the Collier Street block -- photo by Alice Lum|
The building was renovated again in 1946 when architect Henry G. Harrington remodeled it for use as the factory of the First Machinery Corporation, manufacturers of plastic and rubber products. Harrington also remodeled the Hudson Street façade by adding stone pilasters and arches framing the entrances.
|The narrow Hudson Street facade shows the 1946 changes, prior to the 2006 renovation -- photo NYPL Collection|
|When Peter Moore purchased the building in 2004, it needed serious reviving -- photo ny.curbed.com|
|The Laight Street side in 2006 as construction begins -- photo by Skye H. McFarlane for Downtown Express|
|Architect Kevin Kennon's model shows the rooftop addition, engineered to be invisible from the street -- photo worldarchitecturenews.com|
|photo by Alice Lum|