The three brothers, Louis Foreman Fechtman (1847-1929), George Herman Fechtman (1855-died between 1900 & 1910), and Frank Willi Fechtman (1860/62-1906), appear in the U. S. Census of 1860 among the 7 children of Christian Fechtman (1819-?) and Anna Fechtman (ca.1822-1897). Christian Fechtman, age 18 years, 5 months, appears on the ship's manifest of the Bremen Brig Mercur sailing from Bremen to the port of New York 19 June 1837. Christian Fechtman is listed as "Laborer" in the 1860 census and as an "expressman" 20 years late in the 1880 census. He and Anna Fechtman were immigrants from Hannover (Germany), while their sons were native New Yorkers.
The upholstery goods business began in 1882 as L. Foreman Fechtman & Co. at 205 Canal St. Louis F. Fechtman seems to have been the founder, but he was soon joined by his two brothers. The business was located at 183 Canal St. from 1886 to 1896. This description of the company appeared in Illustrated New York: The Metropolis of To-Day, 1888, "L. F. Fechtman & Co., Importers and Jobbers of Upholstery Good, No. 183 Canal Street. - ... The business was established in 1880 at the present stand, No. 183 Canal Street, so central to the wholesale furniture houses, Mr. L. Foreman Fechtman forming a copartnership with his brothers Messrs. G. H. and F. W. Fechtman under the existing name and style. They occupy an entire five-story building at No. 183, 25x100 feet in dimensions, and the lower part of No. 181, fully stocked with a complete variety of furniture coverings, including the richest designs and colorings of foreign and domestic fabrics in new silks, tapestries, all styles of plushes, satin damasse, silks, brocaded patterns, etc., also satines and material suitable for furniture slip covers..."
The business moved in 1896 to 30 Union Square East (at approximately the level of 16th St.) and stayed there until 1911 when they moved here at 48 E. 21st St.
In 1906 Frank Fechtman died, and his place was taken by Charles Foreman Fechtman (1879-1953), one of Louis Fechtman's sons. Around 1909 another son, Louis Foreman Fechtman, Jr. (1881-1964), entered the business. Then within about a year George Fechtman dropped out, and a third son of Louis Fechtman, Willard Francis Fechtman (1883-1955), joined. Louis Fechtman continued as president of L. Foreman Fechtman & Co. until at least the mid-1920s. Louis Fechtman died in 1929, and Charles Fechtman then became president.
The business remained at 48 W. 21st St. for 30 years (until 1941). In the late 1930s it seems to have been renamed (briefly) L. F. Fechtman Sons Inc. In 1941 it moved to 9 E. 33d St. and continued under the name Willard F. Fechtman, Upholstery. Willard Fechtman stayed in business until his death in 1955.
Revisiting this sign in April 2006 I found that in less than 2 years it had been almost totally obliterated. New windows had been punched, old ones bricked up. (Click for image.) The sign becomes yet another dim shadow, there for future wall-readers to puzzle over.
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