Monday, August 27, 2012

Mystery Building of the Week-- August 27th

Piece of the A.F. Bornot French Dyer and Scourer

1642 Fairmount Ave.

               This right here looks like it was once a pretty nice-looking building... but definitely not anymore. Sitting at the corner of 17th and Fairmount for a long-ass time, this curvy bird looks like it would pretty fucking cool if was converted to residences with a nice row of retail/restaurants on both sides. Just imagine if those bricked-up windows came alive.
               Old maps label the property as a Steam Dye House, but that doesn't really tell us anything. It looks like it was once connected to the property next to it. That property may be part of the same building, but today they are two separate entities.

Your mom's a Steam Dye Ho.
                  Eventually, I figured out that the dye company was A.F. Bornot, French Dyer and Scourer. Bornot had been operating at that corner in some form or another since the 1830's. The A.F. Bornot company had stores all over the city and had branches in both Wilmington and D.C. The company even had a hotel on 10th Street called the Bornot... I'll go into more detail about that in a future Lost Building of the Week article. It ends up the building at the corner WAS connected to the property next door, but that's not all... the Bornot factory complex took up the entire block of Melon Street behind it.

Low-res pic of the Bornot factory. The Mystery Building is in the lower middle.
                 The section of the old dye works that is the Mystery Building MIGHT HAVE been built in 1906, a year from which I've found some very non-specific construction records. This is a Mystery Building that's a lot less mysterious than previous ones. In any event, the architect is completely unknown.
                 This building was purchased in 2002 for $700,000 by the non-profit Spring Garden Community Development Corporation from a grant they received in November, 1999. They bought up a shitload of properties from this and other grants... some have been redeveloped, others have been sitting vacant. There's more to this story, but I'll have to save the details for a future Empty Lot of the Week article.
                 Needless to say, they haven't done shit with building, aside from recently replacing a few of those crappy windows. Anyone know who the architect was or what, if any, plans exist for the rehab or sale of this building?


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  2. This building was at one time owned by my family, who ran A.F. Bornot & Bros. Co., the original dyers and dry cleaners who built this building and the adjacent buildings you referenced. I believe the architect was Werner Trumbower, although I'm not sure when it was built.