by Kevin Walsh

From the ForgottenBook: Brothers Henry and Clement Studebaker opened a blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana in 1852, and before long, after John Mohler Studebaker bought out his brother Henry, they expanded their business to covered-wagon maufacturing. Studebaker benefited from Civil War business and western expansion, and became the largest wagon business in the world, topping $1 million in sales by 1875, but that was only the beginning…Studebaker made a successful transition to motorized vehicles as the new century dawned, producing its first motorized vehicle, the Electric Runabout, in 1902. As it became clear that gasoline-powered autos were going to emerge, Studebaker’s first gas-powerd vehicle, the Studebaker-Garford, rolled out in 1904.

By the time its Crown Heights showroom opened in 1920, Studebaker had sold off its original wagon works to a Louisville, KY firm: it was the only former wagon manufacturer to make a successful transition to automobiles. The 1935 Champion was likely Studebaker’s most successful model in its history, while its production peaked at over 268,000 cars in 1950; Studebaker continued production until 1966. The Studebaker imprint is currently owned by Cooper Industries, the hardware and tools manufacturer that itself has an over-130 year pedigree.

Yet one more old Studebaker factory or assembly plant can be seen here on Liberty Avenue west of Merrick Boulevard. Not as spectacular, perhaps, as the one on Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights or another in Harlem, but this one is distinctive enough. It is currently ocupied by the Liberty Storage Company.

Photo: Gary Fonville



Alan Gregg Cohen February 22, 2014 - 10:07 am

It’s an attractive building with streamline moderne and art deco elements to it. I tried to ascertain when it was build, but couldn’t find any information or old maps with the building on it. Do you know when it was constructed Kevin?

Tal Barzilai February 22, 2014 - 10:37 pm

There was a Studebaker Building in midtown, located at the corner of 48th Street and Broadway, but it was torn about a decade ago to be replaced by a typical glass tower, which is known as 1600 Broadway.

Kevin Wong February 22, 2014 - 10:42 pm

I’m guessing based on the design, between 1910 and 1925. There’s also a 1928 Studebaker showroom building on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City at 45 Street (ironically with a Toyota billboard on the roof).

Zalman April 6, 2015 - 8:56 pm

If the City’s records are to be believed it’s circa 1930.

Dennis May 29, 2018 - 12:32 pm

This had been a Seaman’s Furniture store. It was the most decrepit store in the chain. The upper floor had bats.

Rich T September 4, 2018 - 1:31 pm

The building was also a Lafayette Electronics store, I bought my first separates stereo system there in 1969 , a Lafayette Amp, a Garrard turntable and 2 Criterion 25A speakers!!!


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