American Sugar and Refining Company

September 21, 2007 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

Before I left the house this morning I read this article on Brownstoner about the Havemeyer family. Here’s an excerpt:

Cousin Frederick C. Havemeyer Jr. (1807-1891) stayed in the sugar trade and in 1857 established the longstanding South 3rd Street factory on the Williamsburg waterfront. His son, Henry Havemeyer (1847-1907), named the company Domino’s Sugar in the early 1900s and worked to corner the market. His Sugar Refineries Company, or “Sugar Trust,” functioned like Standard Oil–monopolistically (and like Standard Oil did battle with the government over makret (sic) control).

What many people do not know is the Havemeyer family had a refinery in Greenpoint. And if this article (from the May 9, 1886 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle) is any indication, the employees there were not very happy ones.

Now jump forward to 11:30 this morning. I was sorting and pricing fabric remnants at work and found this.

Sugar Bag

Although this item has virtually no monetary value whatsoever, it has a lot of value to me. A lot of hard, thankless work went into filling this bag. I wonder what a worker of Havemeyer’s American Sugar Refining Company would think of the current controversy regarding his former place of employment? I doubt he would be very happy— or surprised.

If there is a lesson here it is this: never confuse a building with its creator. The Havemeyer family was as nasty an employer as could be had in the 19th century. Union busting was one of their favorite practices. We can’t change this building’s past, but we can shape its future.

Domino should offer ample affordable housing, not crumbs.

Miss Heather


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