Certain buildings grab me on sight. I look at them and just know something interesting once happened inside.
Such a building is No. 285 Nevins Street, on the southern corner of Sackett, just a block from the Gowanus Canal. Three stories, red brick, with the street-level floor painted white. It's a residence now, but the angled door on the corner, the cast-iron pillar that divides it, the shingled mock roof that frames the first floor—all these details tell the knowing eye that this was once a place of business. Very likely a business that served the workers at the various busy businesses that lined the canal.
But what business? Over at the Department of Building website, there are two Certificates of Occupancy, one illegible, and one for a completely different address. (This sort of misfiling happens often at the DOB.) A property search tells us the building is owned by one Rafet Cekic. I'm just guessing, but I think that's a Serbian name.
Newspaper archives relate the grisly story that Michael Farrell once lived here. A car coupler, he died in 1894 at the age of 30 when an elevated train hit him at Third Avenue and 65th Street. Also dying here, in 1901, was John Hogan, aged one. And Mrs. William Miller, age 41, in 1918. A lot of death was recorded here, but nothing about who might have made a living.
The American Can Company was located at the same intersection. So there was an audience for a bar or grocery. But that's it. I can find nothing else. Anyone out there have any knowledge?