Brooklyn Navy Yard: The Paymaster Building

July 23, 2010 -

The Paymaster Building is a humble two-story structure inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Also known as Building 121, it was "built in 1899 to serve as a bank for military and civilian personnel at the Yard," according to the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC). More recently, the building was home to the Rose Solomon Company, which manufactured Jewish burial shrouds. Known as Tachrichim, these shrouds are "white and entirely hand-stitched" and "swaddle the entire body, including the face, so that the deceased is both clothed and protected against the gaze of other people," according to Wikipedia. The Rose Solomon Company was at least 100 years old, according to one Jewish funeral website, and sold "Israel dirt" for $2 a bag.

Today, the Paymaster Building is nearly empty, with few reminders from its manufacturing past. The BNYDC has been gutting many of its historic industrial buildings in recent years, including Building 1 and Building 128. In 2007, the Paymaster Building was scheduled for "a gut renovation," according to The New York Sun, as well as a "restoration of the building's historic exterior." It will soon house the offices of SurroundArt, an art handling business located at the nearby Perry Building, an award-winning new "green" structure that has "a wind turbine... a high-performance thermal envelope, waterless urinals, a storm-water harvesting system, a natural ventilation system and recycled materials," according to the Brooklyn Eagle. "The aging 19th-century Brooklyn Navy Yard is being renovated and readapted to serve as a green manufacturing center," according to NY1, but it remains unclear if the Paymaster Building will also be transformed into a "green" structure.

For more photoessays from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, click here.


Smiling Faces

Bathroom Decay

Empty Office

Conveyor Belt

Second Floor

Rays of Light




  1. Wow, I love these type of pictures.
    Out of interest do you go out by yourself of with someone else?
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks Julian!

    And Jsanderz - when I photograph these kinds of spaces, I typically go with several other people, although in some cases I am on my own.