Ups and Downs (pt. 3)

Ups and Downs (pt. 3)

A photo essay. To view all 22 images, check out the email edition.

Six years ago, in two parts, Daily Nutmeg told the story of a pair of rare and endangered historic elevator apparatuses in downtown New Haven.

On Monday, they were saved. Rather than junk them, as would happen 99% of the time, a crew of men detached and disassembled the centenarian-plus machines, then wrapped them in chains and straps, then craned them from the now roofless attic of the former ACME Furniture building onto a flatbed below.

If those elevators could talk, they’d have people to thank. At the top of the list would be someone who’s spent much of his life in the elevators’ company: Robert Greenberg, a local historian, artist and one-time heir apparent to the ACME legacy. Since learning in 2016 that his family’s building would be sold instead of passing to his generation, Greenberg has found purpose and solace in the cause of preserving the elevators, which will be reassembled and installed, installation-style, at Lost in New Haven, his forthcoming museum on Hamilton Street.

They’ve also found an ally in Jeff Spiritos, principal of Spiritos Properties, who bought the ACME building to create eco-luxe mass timber condos and then, in a turn few developers would take, helped hatch and execute the elevators’ rescue plan. “If you’re fortunate enough to work on a building that’s got, in this case, 150 years of very interesting history,” Spiritos says, “it’s very exciting to be a part of uncovering that and, thanks to Rob, preserving it.”

Greenberg and Spiritos were active on the site Monday, but they weren’t alone. Like those elevators did countless times, several others rose to the occasion. Special mention goes to Spiritos’s crewmen Marlon Gonzalez Robledo and José Vicente Torrez as well as a trio from Smedley Crane & Rigging Co.: Jed Cone and Jim Gleason, who rigged, and Peter Carbone, who craned.

As for me, I was there to crane my neck and rig my camera, to observe and document, to preserve not the elevators themselves but rather their final ups and downs in downtown New Haven.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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