The factory was originally built in 1857, when the company of Havemeyer, Townsend and Company was founded. William and Frederick Havemeyer, the founding Havemeyers from whom the company got its name, had previously been employees of Seaman and Company, which had been the very first sugar processing company in New York, opening its first sugar boiler on Pine St in 1799.
The founding of the factory in 1857 marked the beginning of New York's national predominance in sugar refining, and was the first of a number of such companies in Brooklyn and New Jersey. In 1887 these companies formed the Sugar Trust under leadership of Henry Havemeyer, which ruled sugar production in the states for the next two decades.
New York's pre-eminence in sugar production flowed quite naturally from its position as the most important port in the US. Cane sugar production is a two-step process, with the second step of refining usually taking place in the country where the sugar is to be used. Because almost all of the raw sugar coming into the country came into New York, it was easy for the local refineries-- many under the control of the powerful Havemeyer family-- to monopolize production. By 1907, when the Sugar Trust was forced to disband by the federal government, it controlled 98% of domestic sugar production.
But today, nearly a century later, more and more sugar is being produced from sugar beets, and unlike cane sugar production, beet sugar production is a one-step process that is done entirely in the country of origin. This has had a profound affect on sugar refining throughout the country, and in fact the Domino's sugar factory, designed to produce as much as 950 million tons of sugar per year, has been producing only 400 million tons in recent years. This collapse cane sugar refining, combined with NYC real estate prices and labor disputes in recent years at the Williamsburg factory led Domino-- which still runs a factory in Yonkers as well as Baltimore and New Orleans-- to the decision to close the plant.