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Gandars Bookstore to be Demolished!

Gandar demo.jpg

What’s left of the building, at least. The demolition fence is up at 227 Grand Street, as seen above. What’s interesting about this site is not that it will be (yet another) finger building, nor that it will be (yet another) Karl Fisher joint. What’s worth noting here is the building’s history, dating back to the early days of Williamsburgh.


J. C. Gandar appears to have been a civic and literary leader of early Williamsburgh. His bookstore (pictured above) was located at the corner of Grand and Fifth Streets1 (Fifth Street is now Driggs Avenue). The building, which probably dates to the 1840s or 1850s, is distinguished by its curved front – about the only identifying feature left on the building (see below). The building survived in its original form into the 1950s – at which point it was home to Whalen Brothers’ clothing store. In the 1940s, it is pictured as three stories tall, with a one-story extension along Driggs (where the arched openings are now). So it is relatively recently that the building was cut down to one story. Still, the curved front remains – for a short while longer.

1. The address on the advertisement above (156 Grand Street) seems to be incorrect – other versions of this add show the street names on the side of the building: Fifth Street is on the left facade and Grand Street is on the right. The street numbering on Grand Street changed in the 1870s or so, but the even numbers have always been on the south side of the street. In 1874, W. H. Gandar sold the property on “Grand st, n e corner Fifth” – the best evidence that Gandar’s bookstore and 227 Grand are one and the same.

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