Eppens-Smith Coffee Rooftop

Published on: May 16th, 2016 | Last updated: May 11, 2016 Written by:

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Eppen-Smith building to the right

LIC’s forgotten coffee factory.

History
This building was originally home to the Eppens-Smith coffee & tea company. Eppens-smith seems to have moved into this location in after the building was constructed around 1909.

The roots of Eppens-smith can be tracked back to one Thomas Reid. Born in Bridgeport, England, he came to the United States as a boy, and started his business career as a grocer’s clerk in Brooklyn. Within three months after landing, he bought out his employer. He entered the wholesale coffee-roasting business at 105 Murray Street, New York, in 1855, in partnership with a Mr. Townsend under the style of the Globe Mills, which were the predecessors of the Eppens Smith Co. now in Warren Street.

Mr. Townsend died the first year of the Globe Mills’ existence; and Thomas Reid continued without a partner until 1863, when he became associated with John F. Pupke, as Pupke & Reid. The business was then at 269 Washington Street. Thomas Reid was resourceful and enterprising; also he had vision. He saw the day of package coffee coming, and nearly “beat” John Arbuckle to it. As early as 1861 we find him advertising in the City Directory, “spices put up in every variety of package.”


Between 1855 and 1865 there were only half-a-dozen wholesale coffee roasters on Manhattan Island, and Thomas Reid was their leader. Much of his work was roasting for the trade, and this undoubtedly interfered with the logical development of his package-coffee ideas.

Reid eventually died in 1902, but the Eppens-Smith company obviously continued onward, and attempted to catch up with competitors in the packaged coffee trade. A big part of that was the factory in LIC.

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1947 view of the factory. The only changes have been billboards and a shipping dock

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Esco & Holland House coffee cans, packaged in LIC.

They acquired at least one patent for a device to package coffees & teas. One might assume several of such machines were located within this building. The company remained at this location through at least the early 1950s.

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Coffee packaging machine.

The factory did have a rail siding located along its northern side, though it went unused after eppens-smith left. The 2 other tracks here are still used today by the Long Island Rail Road to move their diesel hauled trains from Hunterspoint avenue to the LIC coach yard.

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Active LIRR tracks around back. The siding was located along the rear of the building, on the left.

After Eppens-Smith’s either closed up or left this location, the building has been split up into various workshops and lofts. Today is home to Mavi New York, Nomad Architecture, Postal Envelope, Euro Media, and the Thomas Amato company.

Rooftop
Since the building is currently very well occupied, there’s nothing abandoned here to explore. However, the rooftop is one hell of a nice view. Getting to it required some sleuthing, as one of the doors is both locked and alarmed. The roof is now the home to some AT&T cell towers.

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Queens Midtown tunnel entrance, and LIC/Midtown skyline.

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North towards astoria, Queensboro bridge in view.

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Northeast, up the tracks into Sunnyside Yard.

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East, looking down at the Blanchard building.

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Southwest, with Wheelspur yard in the foreground.

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Southwest, Fresh Direct and the Pulaski Bridge

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Southwest again, towards Manhattan, the east river & newtown creek.

2 responses to “Eppens-Smith Coffee Rooftop”

  1. PegLegGuy says:

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    Nice!

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    .

  2. C Eastland says:

    I was the Eppens Smith’s (Holland House Coffee & Tea Importers,) traveling “office boy” for about 2 years in Secaucus, N.J., where they had recently moved from L.I.C, N.Y.

    I began on my 17th birthday, job contingent on me passing my driver’s licence within that week–I did. I had the green Buick station wagon as my vehicle and from the first day I traveled 5 days a week to lower Manhattan to Fore St. office to pick up small brown bags of imported coffees and Teas from around the world–then to Banker’s Trust Blg. to deliver the bank deposit of checks and cash. Became a damn good driver fast and met some super people (an occasional dump head too.) .

    Pleasant surprise finding this post,
    Thanks for the memories,

    C.

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  • About The Author

    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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