13 June 2013

Furniture on Fifth

The Hutwelker Building is a handsome, simple, red-brick, four-story structure on Fifth Avenue and 19th Street in the South Slope. You'll see it's odd name—and that it was erected in 1896—if you crane your neck and look up to the cornice. And, if your eye is sharp, you spy what sort of business it used to hold from a darkened, barely noticeable, vertical sign running down the corner edge: Furniture.

Charles Hutwelker was not in the furniture business, but the wholesale grocery business. He started a meat packing business in Brooklyn in 1884 and was prosperous enough to build a couple large cold storage buildings up on Hall Street in 1909 and 1919. Hutwelker died in 1924. At some point after that the building became a furniture store. Apparently, this stretch of Fifth was once a furniture mecca of sorts; another one-time huge furniture store sits right across the street.

The building was renovated about a decade ago. It's now filled with smarmy, expensive loft apartments. 

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