The Former Metal Foundry:
In the 1800s, the Albra Metal Foundry melted scraps of metal to recast for the city’s many manufacturers. Today the 2,000-square-foot building still retains its industrial roots with tons of exposed brick throughout the multilevel space, original ovens and cauldrons, and an abundance of ivy growing along the outside and in the courtyard. The chimney shafts are all original, and one of them actually contains the bridal suite. (With a simple padded bench, a few mirrors, and a skylight, this space is meant for touch-ups and a quick respite, not an overnight stay.) The indoor space can fit 200 guests for a cocktail party or up to 125 for a sit-down dinner. Rental fees, which cover twelve hours, range from $5,200 to $11,200 for the main space; couples must book their own caterers. Because dates in peak months get booked quickly, the venue recommends reserving fourteen to eighteen months in advance. 42-38 9th St., Long Island City; 718-786-7776; thefoundry.info.
The Former Printing Factory:
This space started out as a printing and typesetting facility in 1931 and, if you look closely, you can still see metal shavings from that era embedded in the finish of the hardwood floors. The venue’s owners have maintained its industrial feel, preserving the original steel beams and girders and outfitting the space with elements made of reclaimed shipping crates, corrugated-steel panels, and wood joists from decommissioned water towers. The 9,500-square-foot building also features 75 large windows with generous views of the Manhattan skyline and Queensboro Bridge. Attic can hold 200 people for a cocktail reception and 175 for a sit-down dinner in the main event space (Studio A), though smaller ancillary studios (B and C) can also be rented. Price upon request. Couples must use their own vendors. 11-05 44th Rd., Long Island City; 718-360-1978; atticstudios.net.
The Former Presidential Abode:
Roosevelt House at Hunter College
This neo-Georgian double townhouse was once home to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, as well as FDR’s mother, Sara. Roosevelt even delivered his first presidential radio address from the drawing room. The stately space reopened in 2010, and now serves as the headquarters for Hunter College’s Public Policy Institute. Up to 75 people can be accommodated for sit-down dinners, and 125 for cocktail parties. The first floor, where weddings take place, offers mirror-image reception areas on both sides of the house, with big windows, elegant moldings, hardwood floors, and decorative fireplaces. Price upon request. Vendors must be approved by the venue. 47–49 E. 65th St., nr. Park Ave.; 212-650-3174; roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu.
The Former Chorizo Factory:
632 on Hudson
Before it was a full-time event space, this antiques-filled West Village triplex had many lives: It started off as a townhouse for a sash-maker prior to becoming a general store, and then was a chorizo factory until 1992. The building now offers a variety of party-ready spaces: a soaring atrium, an Art Deco lounge, a Chinese-inspired den, a re-created Edwardian kitchen, a rooftop garden, and a ground-floor Art Deco “speakeasy.” Indoor ceremonies usually take place in the first-floor atrium. The three floors can accommodate cocktail parties or partially seated dinners for up to 130 people. For additional space, couples can also rent 632Below, located on the ground floor. Site fees start at $9,000, and couples must use their own vendors. 632 Hudson St., nr. Horatio St.; 212-620-7631; 632onhudson.com.
The Former Post Office:
Skylight at Moynihan Station
Couples looking for a mix of old-school grandeur and industrial glamour will find it in this storied space, located in the James A. Fwarley Post Office building. Completed in 1912, it boasts a Beaux Arts exterior. Inside, it’s unexpectedly raw, with concrete floors and exposed steel beams. The massive event space, which has hosted runway shows during Fashion Week, includes the 41,000-square-foot former mail-sorting room and the 33,000-square-foot postal dock, which still has its original peaked skylight. Hosting 1,000 people for cocktails or 700 for dinner is no problem here. The challenge is filling the space, which a planner can handle with a complete custom build-out. Price upon request. 360 W. 33rd St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-736-6200; skylightnyc.com.
The Former Bank:
Skylight One Hanson
It’s hard to miss the clock tower of the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank, once the tallest building in Brooklyn. The interior is no less impressive, with soaring 63-foot ceilings and 22 different types of marble in the floor alone. You can still see vestiges of its days as a bank, such as the teller stations, which line the cavernous event space. Ceremonies can take place inside the 3,500-square-foot vault, which still has its original doors and Art Deco marble. A mosaic map of the zodiac on the ceiling, meant to represent “dreams of future riches,” is also preserved, arching over the entire main room (and hopefully boding well for the couple’s future bounty). The opulent venue holds 1,000 for a cocktail party and up to 600 for a sit-down dinner with dancing. Weddings start at $350 per person, which includes catering, bar, and site fee, or couples can choose to bring in their own caterers. 1 Hanson Pl., at Ashland Pl., Fort Greene; 718-230-0400; skylightnyc.com.
The Former Millinery:
You can tell even before you get inside that the building housing the newly opened Refinery Hotel has had a rich history: Intricate carvings adorn its neo-Gothic façade. The structure first opened in 1912 as a millinery. Now, couples can book the ground floor, home to the locally sourced Parker & Quinn restaurant, or take over a glassed-in roof deck that offers views of the Empire State Building and has ceilings made of wood salvaged from the building’s original water tank. The hotel’s rooftop can fit 240 for cocktails, and its restaurant holds up to 120 for a seated dinner. Pricing starts at $250 per person for a five-hour event, and couples must use in-house catering. 63 W. 38th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 646-664-0310; refineryhotelnewyork.com.
The Former Tycoon’s Office:
The Campbell Apartment
The majority of those who pass through Grand Central Terminal don’t even realize they’re steps from this posh hideaway. In the twenties, it served as the office of railroad magnate John W. Campbell. The apartment—a popular bar for commuters—still channels a plush, clubby vibe with its dark-wood-paneled walls and gigantic stone fireplace. Even with a balcony overlooking the main room, the space is intimate; weddings here can accommodate 125 guests for cocktails and 75 for a sit-down dinner (50 with dancing). Prices range from $125 to $500 per person, with in-house catering by Hospitality Holdings. Grand Central Terminal, 15 Vanderbilt Ave., nr. 43rd St.; 212-980-9476; hospitalityholdings.com.
The Former YWCA:
Built in 1927 as part of the central branch of the YWCA, this Art Deco theater housed everything from community concerts to USO dances. Nowadays as Roulette, it hosts experimental-music and -dance events. Couples can marry onstage under a proscenium arch carved with floral reliefs, then head to the lobby for cocktails. Booking the venue gives you access to the theater’s in-house audio technician, who can help you make the best of the state-of-the-art sound, video, and lighting—including a twenty-foot projection screen. The space fits 250 to 350 for a cocktail party and 150 for a sit-down dinner with dancing.Site fees start at $5,500 for twelve hours; couples must bring in their own vendors. 509 Atlantic Ave., at Third Ave., Boerum Hill; 917-267-0370; roulette.org.
The Former Auto-Body Shop:
The folks behind Gowanus’ Green Building are also the proprietors of 501 Union, a former auto-body shop that dates back to 1916. (By spring 2014, it’ll also be home to 501 Social, a members-only club.) The newly refurbished 6,300-square-foot space is divided into three rooms: the lounge, with a twenty-foot marble-top bar; the gallery, with another twenty-foot bar and Jason Miller globe chandeliers; and the garden, an outdoor space decorated with hanging globe lights, which can be warmed with space heaters for winter use. The venue fits up to 200 for a cocktail reception and 120 for a seated dinner with a dance floor. Rental rates range from $5,500 to $8,900 and include all spaces for a 24-hour period. Couples must use their own caterers and the venue’s bar services. 501 Union St., nr. Bond St., Gowanus; 347-529-6486; 501union.com.
The Former Home of a Bed-Stuy Beer Baron:
Akwaaba Mansion Bed and Breakfast
Budget-friendly wedding venues are hard to come by in this town, but there’s an elegant solution right in the middle of Bedford-Stuyvesant. At the four-bedroom Akwaaba Mansion, guests are greeted on a sun-filled, glassed-in porch. This Italianate villa was built in the 1860s as the home of a beer baron, but since 1995 it has been operating as an inn, redecorated with a mix of antiques and African décor. Original details remain, like the hand-carved marble fireplaces, chandeliers, and vintage-glass floor-to-ceiling windows. The inn accommodates 150 for a cocktail party and 70 for a sit-down dinner with dancing in the ballroom. Site fees range from $300 to $400 per hour; couples must use their own vendors. 347 Macdonough St., nr. Stuyvesant Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant; 718-455-5958; akwaaba.com.
The Former Naval Office:
Kings County Distillery
Once a naval paymaster building, this spot (co-owned by New York Magazine editor David Haskell) opened in 2010, becoming the first distillery to operate in the city post-Prohibition. Wedding guests can mingle over cocktails amid 2,500 open, airy square feet of copper stills and fermentation tanks, before heading upstairs to the 1,600-square-foot, exposed-brick barrel room, where a host of whiskies and bourbons are aged. Although the venue is long on charm, couples should be prepared to bring in décor, lighting, and sound equipment, and caterers must be able to work without a prep kitchen. The building fits 150 for cocktails and 100 for a sit-down dinner (or more in mild weather with a tented outdoor area). Site fees start at $5,000, but vary by event. Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Ave., Bldg. 121, Wallabout; no phone; kingscountydistillery.com.
The Former Home of Saul Bellow:
Literary types will get a kick out of the fact that Saul Bellow, who worked at nearby Bard College, once lived in this quaint Italianate Victorian house, which offers a soaring view of the Catskill Mountains from its front porch. The current owners purchased the house in 1996 and, after extensive renovations, opened it as an inn with an on-site spa. Weddings take place in the parlor, which is furnished with mid-1800s Northern European furniture and can hold 65 people (or up to 200, weather permitting, with the addition of a tent). The inn’s five bedrooms are reserved exclusively for the wedding party on the weekend of the event. Prices vary based on the size of the event, but are typically $150 per person for up to 100 people, including the site fee, tent rental, and use of the inn’s five rooms for three nights. It’s a 90-minute Amtrak trip from Penn Station to Rhinecliff, plus a 15-minute taxi ride. 144 Kidd La., Tivoli, New York; 845-757-3424; hamhouse.com.
The Former Officers’ Club:
Bayside Historical Society
There’s something about the Bayside Historical Society that is reminiscent of The Royal Tenenbaums—in a good way. Perched on the bay in Fort Totten Park, it was built in 1887 as the officers’ club for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its deep-red, white-trimmed exterior offers a dramatic backdrop for wedding-party portraits. Once inside, guests can cavort in a variety of rooms, including a country-casual dining room, a grand ballroom, and a spacious reception hall with soaring ceilings, detailed moldings, and large windows facing the park. Fees range from $350 for the first-floor boardroom (which fits up to 20 guests) to $3,800 for the entire building and grounds (up to 150 dinner guests); those rates cover a five-hour event, plus one hour of cleanup. 208 Totten Ave., Fort Totten Park, Bayside; 718-352-1548; baysidehistorical.org.
The Former Family Farm:
Old Stone House & Washington Park
Once known as the Vechte-Cortelyou House, the Old Stone House was built by Klaes Arents Vechte in 1699 and then purchased by the Cortelyou family in 1790. In 1934 the Department of Parks and Recreation rebuilt the farmhouse in the Dutch Colonial style, using stones from the original structure to create an oasis in the middle of Park Slope. Weddings take place in the homey second-floor great room, which has a high, open-timbered ceiling. The house can accommodate 100 people for a cocktail reception or 50 people for a seated dinner (without room for a dance floor). There’s a $500 site fee, then rental charges start at $100 per hour, including setup and cleanup times. Couples bring in their own vendors. 336 3rd St., nr. Fifth Ave., Park Slope; 718-768-3195; theoldstonehouse.org.
The Former Upper East Side Mansion:
Ukrainian Institute of America
Built in 1899 by Gilded Age architect C.P.H. Gilbert, this mansion was originally a residence for a series of prominent families before becoming the Ukrainian Institute in 1955. Ornate French Gothic touches are everywhere: Newlyweds can make quite an entrance through cast-iron doors, mingle with guests beside the impressive marble fireplace, and dance their first dance beneath the original crystal chandelier. Arched windows in the ballroom, which can be used for dining or dancing, overlook Central Park. The space accommodates 250 for a cocktail party and 200 for a sit-down dinner with dancing in the third-floor library or chandelier room. Price upon request. Couples must use their own vendors. 2 E. 79th St., at Fifth Ave.; 212-288-8660; ukrainianinstitute.org.