It’s believed that this factory produced the United States’s first clay retorts and fire bricks. Clay retorts and fire bricks made it possible to use burning gas as a source of light. This was a novel idea in the mid-1800s, as before then, people relied on gas, candles, and oil lamps to stave off darkness.
Fire bricks serve as lining in heat-intensive environments such as kilns and furnaces, and clay retorts are the airtight vessels where coal is burned to produce gas.
The three-kiln factory, which began producing clay retorts and fire bricks in 1859, continued production until the early 1930s. It was later bought and restored by Greg O’Connell, a Red Hook developer. The space now houses the Carvart Glass Company, which creates architectural glass products for noteworthy New York City buildings.