Save Brooklyn's Industrial Heritage
The Municipal Art Society of New York

Domino Sugar Refinery Buildings


For 148 years, ships delivered sugar cane from as far away as India to the Domino Sugar plant (originally American Sugar Refining Company) on the East River. In the massive factory buildings workers processed the cane into granulated sugar and packaged it for distribution. The Brooklyn plant was one of the largest refineries in the world, and by 1870 more than half of the sugar consumed in the entire country was refined here.

The site was originally acquired by the Havemeyer family in 1856, with the waterfront location being chosen to facilitate the shipping of massive quantities of raw and refined sugar. After a fire in 1882, the refinery was completely rebuilt with brick and stone buildings at least 10 stories high. Despite some alterations over time, the rounded-arch style buildings, a distinctive smokestack and an iconic lighted sign still remain.

Thousands of Brooklynites worked there and many settled in nearby Williamsburg and Greenpoint, shaping the character of those neighborhoods. It was a terrible blow to Brooklyn in 2004 when sugar processing ceased. While Domino is gone, they left behind beautiful red brick buildings with round arched windows and the famed “Domino Sugar” sign.

Photo Credits:
Left: Jack Jeffries
Right: Pete Jeliffe

National Register Status: Entire complex eligible for listing on the National Register.

Landmark Status: On September 25, 2007, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated three of the buildings on the site: the Pan, Filter and Finishing House. That is just the first step towards their preservation, but it is a positive one. The Municipal Art Society will continue to advocate that the Bin Building – with its iconic “Domino Sugar” sign - the syrup station, and other historic structures are incorporated into the development.

Threat: The Domino buildings were bought by CPC Resources, the for-profit arm of Community Preservation Corporation, and Brooklyn developer Isaac Katan. Any changes to the designated buildings will require approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. However, the preliminary plans call for out of scale residential towers which will overwhelm the historic refinery. Other buildings and industrial structures on the site will likely be demolished.

What you can do: Write to CPC Resources and ask them to incorporate the “Domino” sign, the syrup station, and other industrial structures into the new development.

Interactive Map