As the clock ticks down on the life of the Hamberger Christmas display factory on Warren and Hicks Street, I thought—before it's converted into rubble to make room for more condos—it would be a good idea to take a moment and contemplate what will be lost. Helping me in this is a good friend who lives near the building and, due to her attachment to the old factory, has sleuthed out various facts about the address' long history.
Most of us know the red-brick edifice at the former producer of mechanized elves and bunnies that animate holiday window displays. It was founded in 1922 by David Hamberger. The Hamberger family employed many people from the neighborhood; a few of the descendants of these employees actually still reside on the block today.
Prior to the Hamberger days, however, is was the gymnasium for St.Peters Church on Hicks Street, which was built by prolific church architect Patrick Charles Keely. Rumor has it that The New York Knicks practiced in the gym prior to becoming an NBA team. It was also, at one time, a recreation destination called the Brooklyn Lyceum, where dances were held. Our amateur historian encountered one lady who said she met her husband at such a dance. Brownstones used to stand on either side of the building, but they were torn down in 1942 to prepare for the BQE.
Hamberger sold out in the early '90s to Center Stage Productions and moved out of Brooklyn. He's still alive and well today in Queens. I found a couple of photos of the company's handiwork below.