Back in February, I wrote about the amazing roofless, wall-free, Dali-like suspended facade that is 37 Carroll Street, situated between Columbia and Van Brunt, and wondered aloud what the story was behind this peculiar, unofficial neighborhood landmark.
Today, I walked by the "building" and all was revealed. Lo and behold, construction work was underway—the first I had seen in five or more years. I gazed in wonder at the new brickwork. Then a buoyant, middle-aged man accosted me with his huge grin. "You like my building?" he boomed. It was the owner. The eighth wonder of the world had an owner. I let fly with the questions, unable to withhold my curiosity.
And this is what I learned. The building, dating from around 1905, has stood that way for 20 years! The owner, a bricklayer, used to have his business in the ground floor space. For years, he's wanted to convert the address into rental units, but had to wait for a zoning change—the area was previously zoned for industry. The change just recently came through. So he's erecting a building around the facade, adding an extra floor to the top, and building another matching structure right next door.
So, why did he retain the facade all these years? He likes it. He thinks it's beautiful. The brown and tan brick it's composed of is hard to find these days, so the building next door will sport a facsimile of the design. He said he was never afraid the wall would fall down. "That thing is as solid as rock. It never moved an inch."