A Brief History of M. Schames & Son at 3 Essex

Posted on: December 13th, 2010 at 6:07 am by

Since posting about the relocation of neighborhood paint purveyor M. Schames & Son to 90 Delancey, we’ve been in contact with ownership regarding the origins of their former headquarters at 3 Essex Street.  And it’s quite extensive!  Although the City of New York dates the building to around 1909, the tenement is allegedly much older.

This image has been archived or removed.

But piecing together this history was difficult.  The Schames descendants know little about the structure prior to 1927, when the family initially acquired the property.  However, the demolition of neighboring 5 Essex Street a year ago revealed some interesting clues about its true age.  Based on the antiquated construction methodologies and materials (hand-forged square head nails, hand-hewn beams, etc.), it appears that the original building could have been constructed as far back as the early 1800s.  In subsequent decades (nay, centuries), the footprint was apparently enlarged, and gradually evolved to its current state.  At present, though, only half of the first floor is believed to be original.

This image has been archived or removed.

And check out the wooden siding, now visible through the busted sidewalk plywood!

This image has been archived or removed.

Tragedy struck in 1940, though, when a large fire consumed the building.  Coincidentally, a newspaper photographer just happened to be passing the scene with his camera gear in tow.  His chance encounter with the blaze produced the photo seen above.  Truly amazing that the whole place didn’t explode with the sheer volume of paints and chemicals stored there.  Also, note the firefighter on the move.

This image has been archived or removed.

[3 Essex Street, Circa 1947]

Now that the plywood perimeter of 5 Essex is completely splintered, we have a clear glimpse of the facade of the old paint store. That large opening now sealed with brick was most likely a Porte-cochère for horse-drawn carriages, which probably led through the building at some point in the distant past. Also visible is some of the antiquated wood cladding of 3 Essex, likely the original supports from way back when.

This image has been archived or removed.

Schames Paints is open at 90 Delancey.  Support your neighborhood hardware store!

Many thanks to the Schames family for the archival photos and help with their family history.

Recent Stories

Uncapped: Nobody Beats IZ THE WIZ

  IZ the WIZ: hands down one of the most illustrious and renowned graffiti writers in and outside of our fair city. May he continue to Rest in Peace. In this installation of Uncapped, guest contributor, Freddy Alva, is back with an excerpt from the new issue of his Black Book Series magazine: Pound for […]

Four Teenagers Arrested with Loaded Guns at PUBLIC Hotel on Chrystie Street

Four teens were busted with three loaded guns inside the PUBLIC Hotel this week. Jarell Swan (19), Anton Philips (18), Linwood Spruill (18), and an unidentified 15-year-old boy were arrested at the swanky, 28-story Chrystie Street lodge on Wednesday, and charged with weapons possession. The four friends were reportedly smoking weed in their room shortly […]

No Return in Sight for Tenants and Businesses Displaced by Mulberry Street Fire

Months after the deadly fire at 78 Mulberry Street, displaced tenants – residential and commercial – are still waiting for renovations to begin. The two-alarm fire broke out at 78 Mulberry Street just before 4:00am on April 15. Roughly one hundred firefighters responded to extinguish the flames, which reportedly spread from the fifth floor. The […]

Counterfeit Goods Raid on Mott Street Yields Air

Morning strollers yesterday were treated to a sight when Counterfeit goods contractors pulled up in a van, and forcibly gained entry into a gift shop on Mott Street. Shun Fat Gifts at 49 Mott was shuttered at the time of the raid, so the contractors cut the lock then drilled the control lock for the […]

Kyle Martino Readies Soccer Bistro ‘No One Home’ at 141 Chrystie

A former professional soccer player for Major League Soccer is planning a nightspot inspired by the sport on Chrystie Street. Kyle Martino, who split seven seasons as a midfielder for both the Columbus Crew and Los Angeles Galaxy, is currently reading No One Home. The principal describes the businesses in liquor license paperwork as a […]