Isaac J. Whiffen established a meat market in Utica, New York in 1843. The market grew into a successful wholesale and retail operation, and in 1886 his sons George I. and B. Allen Whiffen joined, officially making it a family business. After Issac passed in 1889, the sons continued operations—at the corner of John and Jay Streets—for four more years.
In 1893, in order to better serve Utica and the surrounding areas, a new four story structure was built on Bleecker Street. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the family business, two decorative terra cotta plaques imbedded on the 4th floor of the façade. One plaque reads “1843” and the other reads “1893”.
The new building, called the “Whiffen Building”, housed the Isaac Whiffen’s Sons Meat & Provisions Company into the mid 1910’s. Around 1916, the building had a brief period where it was occupied by a Ford Motor Company auto dealership.
Around 1922, the property became home to the Ribyat Brothers Furniture Company, which was owned and operated by Polish immigrants Sam and Hyman Ribyat. The Ribyat Brothers Furniture store operated for at least another four decades. They added two stories to the main part of the building sometime after 1925, including the title “RIBYAT” to the new front cornice.
In the early 1960’s, the building changed hands to Jeffrey Hardware—another long-lasting, Utica family business. Starting out in 1925 as Jeffrey & Spath Hardware, Inc., Donald Jeffrey served Utica from his Bleecker Street store for more than 40 years.
With the exception of the new cladding on the lower façade, the building at 327-331 Bleecker Street today looks very much as it did in the 1920’s. It is immediately recognizable to its period of significance, and it offers a significant tangible link to the early days of Utica’s Chancellor Square. For these reasons 327 Bleecker Street was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.