I believe this building at 395 Johnson Avenue was originally the home of Max Blumberg’s lumber and millwork business. He emigrated from Russia in the late 1800s and started a sash and door factory on Humboldt St in addition to building apartments. His fortune was wiped out in the business depression of 1907 but he recovered and at some point erected the building on Johnson Street. Blumberg was active in Jewish philanthropies and died at the age of 58 in 1938. His biography is available online at the link:
Another photo of the building is available online at the link
http://www.donwiss.com/pictures/BrooklynStores/h0072.htm. This photo shows some interesting architectural details and brickwork on the ends of the building. At the time this picture was taken in 2003, ADAR Imports occupied the building. Now it is apparently used by the Nationwide Chemical Co., Inc., a distributor of specialty cleaning, polishing and sanitation preparations. – Robert Baptista – Colorants Industry History
Previously on FAB:
- Private Label Industrial Maintenance Chemicals – Bushwick, Brooklyn - Aug 18th, 2008
Vincenzo took the shots above on Park Avenue just south of Broadway with his iPhone. So this is my theory. From the look of the fonts and the weathering, the signs written on the brick between the windows are clearly very early 20th-century (c.1910). My guess is the sign for Broadway Sleep Mart can be anywhere from 1930′s to 1940′s. I’m going to assume that the proprietors conducted their business at the Park Avenue location for several decades and then outgrew their space and moved up the street on Broadway. The public records above show the address at 835 Broadway with an incorporation of 1956 – up the street a bit in a larger space, now a laundromat. Vincenzo also points out that the Park Avenue location may have been maintained as a warehouse. I’m also inferring from these records that in 1962, they changed the name of the store.
George Hummel, Sr. (1851-1911) an acclaimed furniture & cabinet maker, was the son of stone mason David Hummel, a German immigrant who settled in Cincinnati, OH in 1841 according to Constance Lee Menefee, “with optimism and a trade.” There he started the Hummel Building Company. Menefee further states:
At that time Cincinnati was on the crest of a building and expansion boom….David Hummel died in 1894, leaving the business in the capable hands of his three sons: George, Frank and William. Each had been trained as an apprentice to a stone mason, blacksmith or carpenter and each worked at the stone yard and had supervised construction.¹
According to Digging Cincinnati:
In 1893, George Hummel, Sr. was the first to build his home at 3423 Whitfield Avenue. This home remained in his family until his wife, Ella, passed away in 1947. This home, designed by Samuel Hannaford & Sons, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.²
Often Vincenzo or I will snap a hand-painted sign and a whole history will reveal itself. Sometimes the past is a bit more elusive and the juxtaposing hints belie the writing on the wall. Last year I posted Vincenzo’s images of the Hemley Supply Company thinking it was a sheet metal supply. Earlier this week I received this e-mail from Debbie Hemley:
I came across your book today and was thrilled to find it. What a wonderful collection of images and great thing to document!
My father’s old warehouse for mattresses and bedding supplies, in the Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn had that type of painted ad and none of us had been down there in almost twenty years. We’re all in Massachusetts now. Earlier this year my sister went to the location at 300 Meserole Street and we were thrilled to discover that the painted ad was still there and hadn’t faded! Attaching photos that she took.
Loved too to learn that you’re a long-term survivor of AIDS. I’m a long-term survivor of Leukemia and there’s something so unique and transforming about longterm survivorship–that not everyone quite gets.
As fate has it, not only did Debbie’s e-mail solve another mystery, but it confirms the transformative nature of survival. Why some of us die after diagnosis and treatment and why some of us endure will still remain a mystery.
- The Loyal Order by Debbie Hemley – Hippocampus Magazine
- American Institute of Graphic Arts [AIGA] – Lettering Grows in Brooklyn