Then & Now
Stop the presses: a lofty ambition for a former New Rochelle printing plant
Then & Now
Past Is Press-ent
Ever wonder who lived in your house before you? Well, if you move into the new Knickerbocker Lofts in New Rochelle, the past isn’t difficult to discern; it’s literally written on the walls—or, in this case, on the side of the building. Built in 1889-’90, the 70,000-square-foot building once housed the Knickerbocker Press, the printing plant for prestigious book publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons. The publishing house, founded in 1838 in New York City by George Palmer Putnam and John Wiley, was originally called Wiley & Putnam. (It became known as G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1872, when three of George’s sons, including the eldest, George Haven Putnam, inherited the firm.) In 1890, G.P. Putnam’s sons began producing books at the Knickerbocker Press plant in New Rochelle. George Haven Putnam was a good friend of Washington Irving—and printed many of his books. Rumor has it the printing plant was named after Diedrich Knickerbocker, the narrator-cum-fictitious author of Irving’s novel Knickerbocker’s History of New York.
In 1931, the Putnam family sold the publishing house and, three years later, the American White Cross, a nonprofit organization that once made bandages, adhesive tape, and other surgical supplies, moved in. The now-defunct company left the space—and the county—in 1995. Ginsburg Development Companies took over, turning the interior of the turn-of the-century building into 45 SoHo-style live-work lofts. The lofts vary in size—anywhere from 660 square feet to 2,146 square feet—and feature exposed brick, 14-foot-high ceilings, and large windows. With prices starting at $375,000, amenities include a 24-hour cyberdoorman, rooftop terrace, and a clubroom with a fireplace.