Before Soho became the cast-iron capital, it was home to little lots of brickage like the one still standing at 497 Broome Street near West Broadway. For years this former factory has been standing derelict, the ground floor boarded up and the bricks above beginning to crumble. Now, according to a plan found on the website of Studio China Architecture + Design, its four floors are being redone and "the revitalized building will house modern office, store front and an artist's work and living space." One new feature will be a light well at the center, running the full height of the building, tying together the various interior spaces. No doubt, given its darker past, more light will be welcome.
Back in 1885 there was a fire in the top-floor factory where ear muffs were made; a young lass found herself aflame, causing a panicked crush of girls rushing for the stairs. And in 1893 the proprietor of a mask and toy factory in the building, not so joyful amidst all that fun, poisoned himself by ingesting a dose of paris green. Now, to bring this one back to life, renovation has begun. The old fire escape above Broome has recently come down, and the building's face is covered in netting, hiding the broken window frames and crumbling brownstone sills. The current owner, 497 Broome Street Realty, came upon the place following a tax lien sale in August 2009. Principal Eddie Hanna sure is pleased with the plan for the future at 497 Broome, which should send those ghosts of the past packing.
· 497 Broome Street [Studio China]