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.

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.

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

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.

[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.

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

2nd-avenue-medical_wm
Family of 2nd Avenue Explosion Victim Nicholas Figueroa Crowdfunding to ‘Give This Young Man What He Deserves’

On Sunday afternoon, rescue workers discovered two bodies in the wreckage of the 2nd Avenue explosion site. Of the two people unaccounted for on that day, one has been positively identified as 23-year old Nicholas Figueroa. The youngster graduated from Buffalo State College just three months ago, and had been on a lunch date at Sushi […]

forsyth-plaza-demolition-1
Contractors Break Through Manhattan Bridge Bulwark for Forsyth Street Plaza 

The Forsyth Street Plaza entered its first phase of development around this time last week, Tuesday being the official kickoff. Construction site regulars like traffic barriers, backhoe, and other sundries are now in place for the interim. Step one, the steps… Indeed, the first order of business is punching passage through the massive masonry at […]

22 Spring St.
Samy Mahfar Slapped with Stop-Work Order for Illegal ‘Gas Tapping’ at 22 Spring Street

It would appear that the Department of Buildings is on a defensive, yet proactive footing in the wake of the deadly explosion on Second Avenue last week. Allegedly tampering with gas lines at 22 Spring Street is proving problematic for SMA Equities (aka Samy Mahfar), yet potentially dangerous for tenants. In a swift follow-up to […]

essex-market-demolition-w3-2_wm
Essex Crossing Lays Waste to Essex Street Market in Week 3 of Demolition [PHOTOS]

As demolition activities enter a third week, the Essex Street Market warehouse south of Delancey is pretty much a pile of rubble and twisted metal. Little from the original structure remains, except for the 75-year-old iron skeleton. This temporary junkyard is SPURA site 2, the Essex Crossing parcel heralded by developers as “The Gateway” to […]

missing-alexander-lin
14-Year Old Boy Went Missing on Hester Street Over the Weekend

Police are looking for a 14-year old boy who went missing on March 28, at about 12:30pm. Alexander Lin was last seen inside the residential 48 Hester Street, which is just across the street from CAAAV. He was in the confines of the 7th Precinct at the time. According to the CAAAV Facebook page,  Lin has a […]