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

Those Iconic Village Voice News Boxes Disappeared from the Streets

The Village Voice news boxes have seemingly disappeared from the city streets. So swift was the apparent removal, you may not have even noticed. The disappearance comes roughly two months after the weekly publication announced that its print edition would cease to exist. Indeed, the final physical issue ran on September 20, with Bob Dylan […]

‘RISE Coffee’ Unveils New Takeout Window at Dudley’s on Orchard Street

Nearly two years after its streetside debut beside the A. Turen boutique, RISE Coffee is expanding. The company just colonized a new takeout window south of the Delancey Divide. RISE Coffee, particularly the nitro cold brew, is now available from the window of Dudley’s Deli at 85 Orchard Street. Twin boards now flank the spot, […]

La Caverna on Rivington Street Proposes Expansion into 3-Level Nightclub

La Caverna on Rivington Street is eyeing an expansion on Rivington Street that would create a multilevel compound. The large office space at 124 Rivington Street – operational headquarters for the Bluecore e-commerce business since April 2015 – has been up for grabs for more than a year. For much of that time, the landlord […]

Revived ‘Lam Zhou’ Dumpling Mecca Opens on the Bowery

Chinatown dumpling darling Lam Zhou reopened this past Wednesday, returning to the ranks of the living with a much larger footprint. New headquarters is now at 40 Bowery, with a sign proclaiming that menu and ownership remains the same. The upgrade still preserves that no-frills setup, yet on a grander scale. Its long and narrow […]

10-Story ODA Condos Amidst Ascent on Chrystie Street

Ten stories of additional upper-crust glitz is on its way for the Chrystie Street midsection… Indeed, the ODA-designed condo at 165 Chrystie Street started its ascent last month, and is progressing upward quite quickly. As of now, the structure is sitting at over six stories. This sudden burst in activity follows more than a year […]