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A Less Substantial Than Usual Ghost

Most of the building ghosts I’ve photographed are the results of party walls being swallowed by newer construction. Some are the result of modern construction being placed awkwardly next to an old wall. This one is neither: an old building was constructed next to an older building, leaving only faint traces when the older building was demolished.

I looked at this site before, from the other end. The empty lot is a construction site that runs through the block from Liberty Street on the north to Cedar Street on the south. (The picture above shows Cedar Street, looking north from a bit west of Trinity Place.) The building on the right is a blunt L in plan, with facades at 106-108 Liberty on the north, 112-114 Trinity Place on the east, and 111 Cedar on the south. It does not include the corner of Cedar and Trinity, which is a separate building. It had that configuration in the late 1800s (although not the current Burger King tenancy) and it appears that the building may have pre-dated and been significantly altered by the widening of Trinity Place, 1869-1872. An 1857 map shows Trinity ending in a T intersection at Liberty on the right, but also has a hand annotation that seems to show 108 Liberty being expended slightly to the east. (100 and most of 102 Liberty would now be in the roadbed of Trinity Place.)

In any case, the little building at 113 Cedar, on the south side of the block is the one that left the ghost. I don’t know how old that Buidling was, but it was pre-1850. Here’s a close-up of the ghost, on which I’ve enhanced contrast to make the marks more visible:

When 111 Cedar/112 Liberty was built, its west wall was built blind against the masonry of 113 Cedar, leaving the outline of its gable roof and east wall. (The portion of rough brick below the old gable has been parged.) In the pre-code days, there was no restriction on putting windows on your lot-line walls, and you can see a number of them north and above the outline of 109 Cedar, long since filled in when the now-demolished building on the empty lot was constructed. And pairs of hinges for fire shutters are visible on the now-filled-in windows.