A Look Back in Time at 30 Christopher Street

The snow is coming down here in New York City, so why not grab a cup of hot chocolate and read up on a Village landmark with us at Off the Grid? Today we’d like to feature the seven-story building at 30 Christopher Street. One of our readers wanted to learn more about this building’s history. What was it used for originally? What “famous” product was made here? Read on to learn more!

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This building is located on a particularly charming corner, as can be seen in the Google Street View above. Across the street from the Northern Dispensary (right), 30 Christopher was built in 1907 and is now a residential building.

The building is within the boundaries of the Greenwich Village Historic District, which means that you can learn a bit more about it in the district’s designation report on our Resources page. However, the building’s entry really only focuses on the architectural features. So off we went to uncover original building permits and primary sources in an attempt to learn just went on here all those years and years ago.

30 Christopher Street is just visible behind the Northern Dispensary c. 1928. Courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery.

30 Christopher Street is just visible behind the Northern Dispensary c. 1928. Courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery.

From “Medical Times” (1909). Click image for original source available on Google Books.

From “Annals of Surgery” (1909). Click image for original source available on Google Books.

What we found was that the building replaced three smaller buildings when it was constructed in 1907 to the designs of the well-known firm Jardine, Kent & Jardine. (This was only a few years after they were commissioned to design the Van Tassell & Kearney Auction Mart, an East Village building we were thrilled to see landmarked last May!). Learn more about Jardine, Kent & Jardine here.

Owned by the Waverly Realty Company, 30 Christopher Street was built to house The Fellows Company of New York, formerly known as The Fellows Medicine Manufacturing Company. According to medical journals of the time, the company produced the “famous” Syrup of Hypophosphites. The advertisements at left tout the syrup as a cure for several illnesses (note: the ads use the address of 26 Christopher). If you happen to be suffering from bronchitis, your ancestor 100 years ago with the same condition might have benefited from the syrup being produced right here in the Village.

It’s not clear how long the company stayed in the building, but it did remain in use as a factory and office space for many decades. A 1974 Certificate of Occupancy reveals that, by that time, the building had been converted to residences.

The building itself has an irregular floor plan, which is not surprising given the irregular shape of the block as a whole. This is the Village after all! It employed steel frame construction, an engineering feat that allowed for taller buildings without compromising the square footage of the lower floors, and reinforced concrete. For over 100 years, this elegantly-designed building has served as a wonderful contribution to the streetscape, and it’s nice to learn a bit more about it on this cold and blustery day.


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avatar Amanda is GVSHP's Director of Preservation & Research