Brooklyn Structure: This bakery as soon as perfumed the neighborhood
You may not even think of looking at it, but the building that dominates a section of Flatbush Avenue near Prospect Park once infused the area around Prospect Lefferts Gardens with the delicious smell of bread.
The building at 479-497 Flatbush Avenue, built by the General Bakery Company, was known as the Bond Bread Bakery, after the once famous Bond Bread that was made here.
Locals who lived in the area in the mid-20th century remember the “seductive smell of baked bread” wafting over the neighborhood, as Brownston columnist Suzanne Spellen wrote. The smell may even have carried over to Ebbets Field, which is just a few blocks away.
The factory was built in 1925 as the company expanded and New York food manufacturing in general was booming. While one might expect a commercial bakery to be a functional structure that fell into an industrial area, the building along the avenue makes a great architectural statement.
The architect is uncredited, but research suggests it was the work of Corry B. Comstock, a New York architect and engineer known for factory buildings. Comstock designed the Ward Bakery Building on Pacific Street, which was demolished as part of the Atlantic Yards Project.
He is also known to have worked for the General Baking Company and designed a Bond Bread factory in Washington, DC in 1929. (Which also happened to be built near an existing sports field, Griffith Stadium.)
Whoever the architect was, he or she designed an industrial brick building with simple dimensions and restrained classic details, including a serrated cornice and bracketed balconies.
The facade of Flatbush Avenue is dominated by a clock tower whose red circles mark where the Bond Bread signs once hung. The signs have disappeared along with most (but not all) of the clock hands – and the clock no longer works.
Located between Flatbush and Washington Avenues, the building has two main exposed facades with a shorter tower on the Washington Avenue side.
The bakery’s chimney is still standing, but the yeasty smell is no longer blowing over the neighborhood. In 1971 the General Host Corporation (the corporate descendant of the General Bakery Company) sold the building to the Denk Baking Corporation.
Denk produced its popular Grossinger rye bread here until it ceased production in 1996, thus ending a more than 70-year history of bread baking at the location.
In 1997, Denk sold the building and the Phat Albert store moved in. He has been present in the building ever since, although other tenants have changed over the years.
Brooklyn Commons, a co-working space, and Planet Fitness are currently taking up space on the upper floors of the building. (On the left is an MTA substation with an ongoing roof replacement project.)
[Pictures by Susan De Vries]
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