05 April 2013

Old John Grace Bakery Oven to Burn Bright Once Again

About a month ago, Pizza Moto, a roving pizzamaker that sells freshly baked pies at Brooklyn Flea and other outdoor markets, announced it had found a permanent home in Red Hook, and has started a Kickstarter campaign to finance it.

This is the building, 338 Hamilton Avenue, a lonely three-story brick thing shivering under the shadow of the BQE near Court Street. It's quite an old structure. So old that, when Moto ripped down a back wall, they found what they called "a 130-year-old oven," which they plan to revive and use to make the pizzas.

Actually, the oven's possibly even older than that. According to a March 1874 article in the Brooklyn Eagle, the John Grace Bakery was here then. Grace won a deed to the land in 1867, but seemed to have surrendered it to the Sheriff in 1880.

If this location seems like an odd one to place a bakery, you have to remember that Hamilton Avenue looked a lot different one hundred and so years ago. The highway was not there, but the trolley lines leading to the Hamilton Ferry were. Many hundreds of people passed by the John Grace bakery every day. The ovens are brick-lined and were made by "New System Oven Construction Company" in New Jersey.

Pizza Moto still needs about $40,000 to restore the oven. So go and kick in $25 or so, so we can all see what a pizza made in a 19th-century Brooklyn over tastes like.

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