When the Butler Brothers building rose near the Jersey City waterfront 111 years ago, the immense brick structure was a testament to the city’s manufacturing prowess. Shaped like the letter E, the eight-story warehouse spanned a square city block and was a distribution center for the Chicago-based company’s catalog business and its Ben Franklin five-and-dime stores and Federated stores.
Now, like so many relics of the past, the warehouse at 350 Warren Street is being reimagined as 366 residential lofts, and rechristened for a new generation as Modera Lofts, with monthly rents starting at about $2,070 for a 446-square-foot studio. Reminders of its grittier past hang from the walls: In one apartment’s den, steel pulleys from the original elevators poke through the exposed brick. Original wood beams crisscross the ceilings of the 500,000-square-foot building with brick walls measuring two feet thick.
“You don’t see something like that on this scale — it’s quite extraordinary,” said John Gomez, a founder of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy and an architectural historian who is writing a book about Gothic architecture. “The Butler building is a time capsule for the Arts and Crafts style of building on an industrial scale.”
For some residents of the Powerhouse Arts District, which lies between Paulus Hook and Newport, the warehouse’s restoration stands as a victory for a neighborhood that has seen many defeats. Designed by the architect Jarvis Hunt, whose uncle Richard Morris Hunt designed the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, the Butler Brothers building was among the last post-and-beam industrial buildings of the early 20th century. […]