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The two-story building with a raised basement at the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street, next to Whole Foods Market in the Gowanus neighborhood, was built from 1872 to 1873. The building was constructed for the Coignet Agglomerate Company, the first U.S. company to produce a type of concrete patented by Frenchman Francois Coignet in the 1850s. Using molds filled with cement to form building parts was much cheaper than carving them from stone by hand with a chisel. This is the last remaining building from the company's factory that once covered 5 acres along the Gowanus Canal; the company closed in 1882. The building became a New York City landmark in 2006 and is a contributing building in the National Register Gowanus Canal Historic District. The building was restored from 2014 to 2016, in conjunction with construction of the adjacent Whole Foods supermarket and was offered for sale in 2021. The building may be the only surviving early cast concrete building in New York City, and perhaps the only surviving example of the use of European Portland cement in America.

Third St. facade of Coignet Stone Building in 2021 (CaptJayRuffins)

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Third Avenue facade of Coignet Stone Building, 2021 (CaptJayRuffins)

Building, Sky, Window, Brick

Former red brick exterior cladding from 1960s as seen in 2010 photo (Jim.henderson)

Cloud, Sky, Building, Window

Detail of restored doorway to Coignet Stone Building in 2017 photo (NYS CRIS)

Building, Property, Door, Window

Detail of stone decoration of second-story window in 2017 (NYS CRIS)

Building, Window, Cloud, Sky

Former Coignet Stone Co. building (green arrow) as an office on 1888 Sanborn map; Gowanus Canal in blue (Vol. 1, p. 26)

Rectangle, Handwriting, Font, Schematic

The Coignet Agglomerate Company of the United States was established in 1869 by an engineer (Quincy Adams Gilmore), a doctor from Brooklyn Heights (John C. Goodridge Jr.), and two other men. William Field and Son designed an office and showroom for the company, which was built in cast stone (concrete) cladding over brick walls, on the corner of Third St. and Third Ave. beginning in 1872. The business was renamed the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company. Soon, the business was in bankruptcy and the company sold their patents. Dr. Goodridge reorganized the firm in 1877 and renamed it the New York Stone Contracting Company. The business closed for good in 1882 and the office/ showroom was vacated. The Brooklyn Improvement Company owned the building for the next 75 years until it closed; they sold the building in 1957. A succession of small businesses occupied the building beginning in the 1960s, including the Pippin Radiator Company. The structure was briefly abandoned in the 1990s.

Impending construction of a Whole Foods Market just feet away from the historic building caused concern for its physical integrity and survival. In 2006, Whole Foods promised to restore the building's exterior at an estimated cost of $1.3 million. In 2012, the size of the Coignet building's lot was reduced from 125 by 55 feet to 55 by 40 feet; this was done so that the neighboring owner, Whole Foods, could have more space for its new market. Unfortunately, Whole Foods allowed the Coignet building to continue to deteriorate for years while it built their market; after paying fines, Whole Foods finally undertook the restoration.

The building at the Third St./ Third Ave. corner has two entrances and two alternate addresses: 360 Third Ave. and 230 Third St. The Coignet building features three facades and a central entrance along both the Third Street and Third Avenue sides of the building; the Third St. side has narrower bays. The exterior is covered in concrete cast to look like stone, the company's signature product. The original, fancy roof with finials and a parapet wall inscribed "COIGNET STONE COMPANY," as seen in early sketches of the structure, has not survived.

The building's exterior was "renovated" in the 1960s by adding red brick cladding; the interior continued to deteriorate in the following decades and was beyond saving. An LLC bought the building in 2005 for nearly $5 million. A new roof was put on in 2011. The brick cladding was removed, and the cast stone exterior was renovated from 2014 to 2016. Analysis of the building materials found that the cement used to create the building's veneer was a pre-rotary kiln cement with a chemical composition of European Portland cement. The cast stone was repaired with Portland cement with a similar composition and texture; some faux stone elements had to be replaced. A protective limewash over the surface was the finishing touch to give the facades a uniform appearance. In 2016, the restoration won a prize in historic preservation from the New York Landmarks Conservancy. A documentary film on the building ("At the Corner of Third and Third") was made by Max Kutner.

Corcoran, Cate. Coignet Building in Bad Shape, Brownstoner. December 17th 2013. Accessed February 10th 2022.

Eldridge, Barbara. From Innovation to Restoration: The Remarkable History of Gowanus' Coignet Building, Brownstoner. April 22nd 2016. Accessed February 10th 2022.

Jablonski Building Conservation Inc.. Coignet Building, Projects. Accessed February 11th 2022.

Postal, Matthew A. NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Landmark Designation Report LP-2202, New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company Building, Brooklyn. New York, NY. New York City Government, 2006.

Spellen, Suzanne. Walkabout: The Coignet Building - What's the Big Deal?, Brownstoner. December 19th 2013. Accessed February 10th 2022.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

New York State Cultural resource Information System (NYS CRIS):


Library of Congress (LOC):