Joseph Loth & Company Silk Ribbon Mill

1828 Amsterdam Avenue
Hugo Kakfa

In 1885 Joseph Loth & Company, a silk ribbon manufacturer, commissioned this industrial building, designed in a reversed K plan to ensure well-lit working spaces and constructed of materials that adhered to the city’s strict building codes for mills. While certain components of its design, like the narrow window bays flanked by pilasters, were typical of American mill buildings of the time, the sandstone and red brick façades also had unique ornamentation and panels to identify the firm. The building’s chimney, rising above its three stories, serves as a reminder of the coal-fired boilers that powered the factory’s looms and provided electricity. One of the few industrial enterprises in West Harlem, the mill was built at a time when the neighborhood was characterized by small farms and wood-frame houses. After the company vacated the factory in 1902, the founder’s son Bernard Loth purchased the building and converted it to partial commercial use, constructing a larger entrance on Amsterdam Avenue with cast-iron storefronts. Over the years it also housed offices for a storage company, a movie theater, a dry goods store, a firm producing theater scenery, a recording studio and a basement bowling alley. Today it is home to the New Heights Academy Charter School. The Joseph Loth & Company Silk Ribbon Mill is a NYC Individual Landmark.