The Fleming Smith Warehouse

Address: 135 Watts Street, New York, New York
Role: Preservation Architect
Architect: Stephen Decatur Hatch
Year Built: 1891
Completed: 2007
Project Status: Completed


This 1891 landmark and National Register building is characterized by its rusticated stone base, segmental arches and symmetrically grouped windows. Notable architect Stephen Decatur Hatch was contracted by Fleming Smith to design the warehouse in an amalgamation of Romanesque Revival and neoFlemish architectural styles. This was the first commercial building in Tribeca to be converted for residential use in the late 1970s. In addition to the shoddy restoration work to address necessary repairs to the exterior, many of the building’s original details had been lost – all the original copper finials had been removed from the building by the mid-1980s.

Henson led the efforts to match and repair the brownstone to its original form as well as repointing the brick to ensure the long-term stability of the building envelope. The restoration work included masonry reconstruction, repairs to the original stone cladding, historic wood window replacement and cast-iron restoration. Henson undertook the historic research needed to determine the original design of the finials, working closely with a craftsman in upstate New York for fabrication. He needed to design a more secure attachment to ensure their future longevity. By opening the dormers where the finials originally adorned the peaks of the Watts Street façade, Henson was able to develop a secure pinning strategy and designed the finials to withstand hurricane-force winds. The project showcases a nuanced approach to façade restoration that characterizes Henson’s work to match the original architectural details and embodies his approach to building stewardship.


November 5, 2019


Historic Preservation