4. The Building that was Stolen… Twice!
Image via Library of Congress
The Bogardus Building once stood in downtown New York City in the Washington Market area. While the area was undergoing urban renewal in the 1960s, the decision was made by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to save the Bogardus Building and use its elements to create a new building nearby. Ergo, the facade of the building was taken down and stored in a vacant lot.
On June 25, 1974, the building contractor discovered three men loading large pieces of the building onto a truck, much to the dismay of Beverly Spatt, the chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, who reportedly ran into the City Hall press room yelling, “Someone has stolen one of my buildings.”
The truck was traced to a Bronx junkyard, where two-thirds of the facade had been already sold as scrap. The salvaged panels of the building were taken back, this time to a secret location in a city-owned building, in order to be incorporated in a building at the South Street Seaport.
The architect went to the building to measure the panels in June of 1977. To everyone’s shock, the storage unit was empty – the building had been stolen yet again. In 2015, the Museum of the City of New York exhibited a single spandrel panel from the Bogardus Building that still remains. A building at South Street Seaport, on Front Street and Fulton Street, was constructed as a replica of the Bogardus Building, but none of the architectural elements are original.