The copper letters above the entrance memorialize an importer of food products, founded in 1882, that was successful enough by 1909 to commission these bespoke premises. Among the company's imported brands, according to a 1939 photo, were Umberto Olive Oil and Marie Elisabeth Sardines.
That period photo also includes a name still visible today: "SAPCO BUILDING." (It was the sight of that name, faintly visible even from a distance, that led me here in the first place.) The meaning of S and A are clear enough: The first is for Frederick Gottfried Strohmeyer, the company's founder, the second, for Herman Arpe, who seems to have been employed by Strohmeyer from the start and who made partner around 1895. P surely honors Col. Gustav Porges, who joined the firm as partner after World War I, "fresh from his assignment as General "Black Jack" Pershing's chief food procurement officer." Although almost universally slighted in online accounts, the colonel does receive his due on the Strohmeyer website — a century later, the company, now based in New Jersey, is still a going concern.
Strohmeyer & Arpe Co.
Surviving signage, 139-141 Franklin St. (at Varick St.), Manhattan