Old Woolworth’s loses art deco facade as it awaits remodeling

The site of the former Woolworth’s in Downtown Brooklyn.
Photo by Susan De Vries

All traces of the streamlined bands of ornament that once graced the facade of the former Fulton Street F.W. Woolworth store are gone, leaving a blank slate as the building preps for a new look.

Filings show that plans for facade repairs on the building at 408 Fulton St. in Downtown Brooklyn, which now houses a Foot Locker, were approved in April of 2021. A permit for converting the two upper stories to use as storage was issued in June.

The building in 2017.Photo by Susan De Vries

Upper windows were filled in with cement block by the summer, a photo on Google Maps shows. Recently removed scaffolding reveals upper stories wrapped in cladding. No longer visible are the zig zag-ornamented aluminum window spandrels and vertical details that decorated the upper stories of what was a limestone facade. Steven Gambino of Architectural Collaborative is the architect of record for the work. The building has been owned by Wharton Properties since it was sold by Macy’s in 2001.

The cornice in 2019.Photo by Susan De Vries

Construction originally began on the building in 1936 and it was opened to some fanfare in June of 1937 as the “largest and most elaborate” of the Woolworth stores in Brooklyn. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, deluxe appointments included its own bakery, a lunch counter, air conditioning, marble floors and walnut counters.

The store was designed by Arthur F. Winter and the published notice of the plan filings list his working address as that of the Woolworth Building in Manhattan. The notice also classified the building as a four-story “5 & 10 cent store.” It wasn’t the first Woolworth on Downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Street; the company had grown out of two prior buildings before constructing this new store on the corner of Gallatin Place. The retailer operated out of the building until the struggling company closed the last of its remaining stores in 1997.

Unlike nearby stretches of Fulton Street where buildings are making way for taller towers, it appears that 408 Fulton St. will stay at its current size, just with a new look.

This story first appeared on Brownstoner.