Another One Bites the Dust
We predicted back in May that this local landmark's days were numbered, and (joining death and taxes in the "just a matter of when" category), yet another vestige of Williamsburg's industrial heritage is about to be demolished to make way for a (say it with me)...six story condo (collective yawn).
As we passed the site on North 6th and Wythe Monday morning, for the first time we recall in three years, the big plywood doors were swung open, revealing the former sawdust factory's interior. (When closed, the doors double as the fabled Faile wall, the site of several prominent Splasher manifestos, and a number of Splashings - a bit of a Wailing Wall for street art fans that's been wheat-pasted photographed countless times in recent years). A Bobcat sat ready to remove debris, and a Bay Crane sidewalk sign pretty much sealed the deal.
A well-informed bystander agreed that the complex is about to be leveled, and also clued us in to the building's history. National Sawdust operated for years on the site, producing (drumroll, please)...yep, sawdust. It seems the biodegradable, non-toxic, renewable stuff was used as a packing material for industries who shipped glass and other fragile goods, before the better living through chemistry folks cooked up things like bubble wrap, Styrofoam, and our all-time favorite, those polystyrene packing peanuts we spend hours cleaning up after we've given up diving for the object they're protecting and pour the damn things all over the living room floor.
Anyway, according to the gentleman, the plant used to mill several different grades of sawdust, and store them in huge bins in the large brick warehouse across the street at 78 North 6th, where nearby manufacturers could come and purchase the stuff in bulk. As recently as five years ago the mill was used to manufacture aquarium gravel. A company called National Sawdust - upstate in Monsey, NY - is listed in an online Blue Book, but a call to their number for more history led to a very ambiguous and soft-spoken answering machine message.
A fresh demolition permit was issued in early August for 71 North 6th (part of the complex of three or four structures that occupy the corner of Wythe Avenue and end at the iconic milling towers on North 6th), but nothing has been filed so far for the alleged condo.