Back When Furniture Filled the 107 West 13th Street Garage
On West 13th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues stands a parking garage on the very edge of the Greenwich Village Historic District. It happened to catch my eye one day as I was walking by so I thought I’d learn more about its history.
As it turns out, the building began as a furniture store for Sheppard Knapp & Company, a well-known business in its day. Founded in 1857 by Sheppard Knapp, the company had several locations in New York, including one at 13th Street and Sixth Avenue.
Though they had a location here in the late 19th century, it wasn’t until 1900 that they constructed this building on West 13th Street for the cost of $40,000 (though the seventh floor and bulkhead were later additions).
Sheppard Knapp & Company was well known for its carpets and catered to high-end residences. Shortly after the completion of this downtown location, Sheppard Knapp passed away in 1906, an event that was noted in the American Carpet and Upholstery Journal (he was known as “one of the oldest members of the carpet fraternity”). The entry also noted that this corner had been the location for the company for half a century, with smaller stores facing 13th Street and Sixth Avenue.
It’s not clear when the company left this location, but they eventually went out of business in the mid-1920s.
Walking by this area today, however, the only piece of evidence left of this long ago company is this building, located at 107-109 West 13th Street. According to a Fire Patrol report, the six-story building was originally an irregular shape that also fronted 189-191 Sixth Avenue (before addresses on the avenue were renumbered) and 102 West 14th Street. The detailing on the facade is quite beautiful, though bits and pieces have been removed over the years (most visibly in the panels between the third and fifth floors).
Curiously, the designation report for the Greenwich Village Historic District doesn’t mention the 7th floor and bulkhead, though it was added in the late 1920s, well before the creation of the district in 1969. Thanks to a Certificate of Occupancy available on the Department of Buildings website, we know the building became a garage in 1928 and has served as one ever since.