Photo of the Week: American Sugar Refining Company

American Sugar Refining Company, circa 1890, V1973.5.840; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

American Sugar Refining Company, circa 1890, V1973.5.840; Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection, ARC.202; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Well before the iconic Domino Sugar sign that graced the skyline until 2014, this is what the Domino Sugar empire looked like along the Brooklyn waterfront. The history of the sign and company goes back to William Havemeyer, a German immigrant who arrived in the United States around 1799. With the help of his brother Frederick, he opened his own refinery in 1807 on Vandam Street in Manhattan. The company went through many name and ownership changes, eventually incorporating as American Sugar Refining Company in 1891, and became known as Domino Sugar Foods, Inc. around 1900. The Brooklyn company dominated the American sugar market; by 1907, they controlled 98% of the nation’s sugar production.

In 2004, after 120 years, operations at the Brooklyn location ended and in 2007, the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission designated parts of the 1884 refinery– the filter house, the pan house and the finishing house–as landmarks. In 2012, Two Trees Management purchased the property to convert part of the site to a massive apartment complex and a park. Brownstowner provided in-depth coverage of this development project here.

On June 10, Domino Park, a public space in front of the landmarked building, will open to the public with an emphasis on preserving the history of the former sugar refinery, including restoring the iconic “Domino Sugar” sign. It will feature photographs and documents from Brooklyn Historical Society’s rich collections.

The photo of the week depicts American Sugar Refining Company around 1890. To learn more about the history of the company, check out the American Sugar Refining Company records comprised of annual reports, company periodicals, photographs, pamphlets and articles by and about the American Sugar Refining Company dating from 1918 through around 2000.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

This entry was posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Hidden Collections, Library & Archives and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Photo of the Week: American Sugar Refining Company

  1. American Sugar Refining, Inc. is a large cane sugar refining company, with a production capacity of 6.5 million tons of sugar. The company produces a full line of consumer, industrial, food service, and specialty sweetener products.

  2. The American Sugar Refining Company (ASR) was the largest American business unit in the sugar refining industry in the early 1900s. It had interests in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean locations, and operated one of the world’s largest sugar refineries located in Brooklyn, New York.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *