Former candy factory building is part of Brooklyn Heights history
Many people don’t know that the northern part of Brooklyn Heights was once home to several factories, since there are few reminders of those days. For example, there are no signs at 25-30 Columbia Heights, part of the former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ complex, to indicate that it was once the Squibb Pharmaceutical Co. plant.
One very visible reminder, however, is the giant “Peaks Mason Mints” painted sign on the side of the condo building at 20 Henry St. The building, Brownstoner recounted, was opened in 1892 as the factory for the Mason, Au & Magenheimer Company.
The firm made Mason Mints, Mason Peaks (shredded coconut dipped in chocolate) and later, Dots (gumdrops). The candy company moved to Long Island in 1949, and the building was converted to artists’ rental housing under the state Mitchell-Lama program in the 1970s. A tight-knit artistic community formed there and lasted until 2003, when a new landlord bought out of the Mitchell-Lama program and began evicting the artists as their leases expired, Brownstoner reported.
The tenants fought back in court and elsewhere, but they were ultimately unsuccessful. The struggle was covered extensively in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Brooklyn Heights Press. The new owners began converting the building to condos but ran into constant problems, including the 2008 recession and a huge hole that developed in the roof.
A new team of investors, including Magic Johnson’s Canyon Johnson Urban Fund, bought the building in 2010 and finished construction in 2012, Brownstoner said.
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