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The Chelsea Art Museum (CAM) is located in the heart of Chelsea at 556 West 22nd Street at 11th Avenue. The three-story, red brick building — each floor 10,000 square feet — has large windows with views of the Hudson River and abundant natural light. An open glass staircase joins the gallery spaces. The complete renovation of the building was planned and supervised by Alfredo Caraballude and Michel Morris of the CMA Design Studio.
The building, erected in 1850, stands on a parcel of land that was once owned by Clement Clarke Moore, renowned author of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. In 1915, the Church Temperance Society leased the building as a rest home for longshoremen, many of whom were Irish, Italian or German immigrants working the foreign commerce lines on the Chelsea piers. Longshoremen waiting for shape-ups (work calls) spent hours out doors in all kinds of weather. The only alternative was the saloon. The Rest offered them reading materials, games and light refreshment, provided the men respected the rights of others.
A description of the building at the time reported, “Often more than a hundred of the denizens of the waterfront can be seen at one time, reading, sitting about in groups playing games, or formed into circles outside the groups, following the play with words of encouragement or derision” (The Longshoremen by Charles B. Barnes, published by the Russell Sage Foundation). Prior to its renovation CAM housed a factory for Christmas ornaments.