As more and more city mice head for the hills, a new Brooklyn has emerged in the scenic Hudson River towns north of NYC. But industrial Newburgh, across the river from happening Beacon, has until recently never been part of that scene. A once-booming industrial center known for its textile factories, the city was in a deep state of abandonment and decline when Joseph Fratesi and Thomas Wright staked a giant claim there. The two are the founding partners of Atlas Industries, a craft-based design and manufacturing firm that they founded back in 1993 in the gritty wastelands of Gowanus, Brooklyn. There, they converted a commercial building into an enclave of workshops for artists and makers—and two decades later, decided to do it again, this time on a grander scale in Newburgh.
In 2012, they took over a 55,000-square-foot dinosaur, an abandoned three-story brick factory built to manufacture worsted yarn. Its hundreds of steel-framed windows had been filled in with cinderblocks—unveiling them has been but one of the ongoing tasks the firm took on to create Atlas Studios, now home to 45 creative businesses, including Atlas Industries itself. In addition to artful urban renewal, Atlas is known for its go-anywhere modular steel shelving. Join us for a look at their now complete and humming Newburgh quarters.
Photography by Dana Gallagher, courtesy of Atlas Industries.
Above: Atlas partners, Thomas Wright (L) and Joseph Fratesi (R) spent eight years fixing up the factory. They carved out their own offices and metal shop first, and have since welcomed in dozens of other creative businesses and artists.
Explains Thomas, who was the first to decamp from Brooklyn: “Newburgh went the way of many northern industrial cities, losing jobs to cheaper labor first in other States, then overseas. It lost its tax base and was ravaged by failed urban renewal initiatives, corruption, crime, and poverty. But through it all, there remained a palpable spirit and love for the city. It has serially been on the verge of bootstrapping itself. Atlas and a brewery were the first businesses to settle in the city in decades. We’ve brought jobs to the community, and helped seed the idea that Newburgh is a place where exciting things are happening.”
The windows, he adds, were “little more than rusted steel and broken glass by the time we arrived on the scene. We hired a few local guys and trained them to do the restoration, which was completed over about four years. They worked on the windows when the weather was nice, and in the winter, focused on restoring and building out the interior.”
Above: In addition to designing historic reuse projects and interiors, Atlas Industries has its own line of furniture and objects, including the AM1 Mirror (L) and Fire Tools (R). They’re shown here in their friend Nadia Tarr’s late-19th-century Newburgh house, the future home of her design gallery/retreat @saltsend “by appointment or sleepover.”
We’ve been following Atlas Industries for years now: our first story on Atlas’s shelving dates back to 2007.
Peruse our feature on Julie and Josh’s own Brooklyn Heights apartment, and you’ll see more Atlas shelving.