Have we yet extolled the virtues of Coxsackie? Pretty sure we have, but we’re going to do it again, because it’s spring and you need an excuse to visit a new place. Coxsackie in Greene County, 30 minutes south of Albany, 10 minutes north of Catskill, and two hours and 35 minutes north of Brooklyn. The riverfront town is known (to us, anyway) for great historical architecture, a nice waterfront park, and one of the best places around to find some good, affordable properties. Don’t let the weird name scare you away. One thing we will mention, though, is that it’s sleepy. Businesses have come and gone, but it’s poised, friends. Right on the cusp. Worth a car trip, no doubt about it.
Since wooden houses are in the Brownstoner news lately, today’s Past and Present shows some that are no more. They were lovely little frame houses on Bainbridge Street, between Malcolm X Boulevard (formerly Reid Avenue) and Sumner Avenue. These houses were from this eastern part of Bedford’s early development, back when the neighborhood’s streets were sparsely developed, and mostly had small groups of frame houses on rather odd shaped lots.
The lots are the legacy of the Dutch families who owned this land beginning in the late 1600s. By the beginning of the 19th century, most of the land that makes up Bedford belonged to the Lefferts family and their relatives by birth or marriage. It didn’t take clairvoyance for them to see that urban development was in the future, and when the city incorporated in 1834, and began planning outward expansion from downtown, the family began parceling off their land, and selling to developers and individuals.
The house in the photograph was probably built in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Back then, it would have been surrounded by fields, and the land bought from, or leased from old Lefferts Lefferts, the family patriarch himself. It’s a classic gambrel-roofed Dutch farmhouse. We can’t really tell now, but the small addition on the right may even be the original house, and the larger structure built on to it later, as the family fortunes got better. Such is the case with several of our remaining Dutch houses in Brooklyn and Queens, which look exactly like this. (more…)
A tipster sent us a construction-site rendering of the seven-story, 35-unit building going up on the large empty lot at 1035 Fulton, and we then found more on the website of the now-ubiquitous Issac & Stern.
The red brick building resembles 19th century warehouses of the type you see in Soho, Dumbo and the South Street Seaport. If it’s executed like the rendering shows, we think the retail section at ground level is going to be appealing, with a canopy and lots of steel or iron mullioned windows and doors to attract passerby. We also appreciate the thoughtful treatment of the under-window air units, which are covered in matching steel or iron cross bars.
The building is obviously modern yet should fit well into a historic context. (Nearby are other 19th century warehouses as well as carriage houses and townhouses.) We’d like to see more of this type of design in Brooklyn. What do you think of it? Click through to the jump for more.
Construction continues on the corner of Strong Place and Kane Street in Cobble Hill, where Brennan Realty is building three Landmarks-approved neo-traditional townhouses. The first of the townhouses, 2A Strong Place, is a 3,720-square-foot five-bedroom, 3.5-bath home that’s entered contract after an asking price of $4,475,000. This house first hit the market last spring at $4,150,000, and the other two will be listed for sale in the fall, a spokewoman for Brennan Realty told us.
Designed by CWB Architects, the homes in the Cobble Hill Historic District are meant to resemble classic brick Brooklyn townhouses. Pictured above are the three townhouses at the corner of Kane Street and Strong Place. All three will have yards and there will be a carriage house in back on Kane Street with a studio and garage. Click through to the jump to see that part of the construction site.
There is probably no more all-consuming home design trend in the last 35 years than the “great room,” a giant open plan room that combines family room and dining room with kitchen. This has resulted most recently in Brooklyn in flippers who rip all the walls out of 19th century houses and the building of so-called luxury apartments with tiny strip kitchens in the living room.
Now, according to The New York Times, renters and home buyers both are demanding separate kitchens and dining rooms, and builders are building them. The story details home hunters who purchased a one-bedroom Art Deco apartment in Kensington with a traditional kitchen and a townhouse in Ditmas Park with a separate kitchen and formal oak-paneled dining room. Above, the separate dining room and kitchen at Jessica and Doug Warren’s house in Clinton Hill. Reasons given include:
*Better for entertaining.
*Don’t have to see dirty dishes.
*Hides the prep work.
“So much new construction features open floor plans that there’s a pent-up desire for apartments with separate dining rooms and kitchen,” said one real estate agent. “For a certain demographic, they’re a definite selling point.”
The Times cited many new buildings with traditional floor plans, including one with pocket doors that let the inhabitants decide whether to open or close off the kitchen. All of them, tellingly, are in Manhattan where new construction is focused on the very high end of the market, except for one, the rental building at 250 North 10th in Williamsburg. A third of the studios there feature “single-opening galley kitchens separate from the living area.” They are priced at about $2,500 a month.
“People say, I’ve been looking for this,” said the developer. “Not a majority, but you hear it from people who like to cook. Nevertheless, they don’t want to cook in the middle of their living room.”
Preservationists Elizabeth Finkelstein and Chelcey Berryhill will teach a class next week on how to research the history of any wood frame, stone or brick townhouse or apartment building in Brooklyn. Making use of digitized, online resources as well as other repositories in Brooklyn and Manhattan, “Research Your Historic Brooklyn House” will cover how to research the history of a building and find what it looked like originally and who lived there. Renters and homeowners both welcome.
Particular attention will be paid to finding historic photographs to show to an architect or contractor for an exterior restoration. The class costs $25 and takes place at 67 West Street, Studio 612, in Greenpoint at 7 pm Wednesday, April 23. For more information or to buy tickets, go to The Wooden House Project.
Name: Row houses Address: 207A-209 18th Street Cross Streets: 4th and 5th Avenues Neighborhood: Greenwood Heights Year Built: Before 1888 Architectural Style: Queen Anne Architect: Unknown Landmarked: No, but these blocks should be
The story: In 1844, the city of Brooklyn voted to extend open up 18th Street from 9th Avenue, now Prospect Park West, and the Gowanus Bay. For the next 40 years, the neighborhood remained undeveloped and was a dumping ground for all kinds of things, including bodies. The body of a baby was found here in 1846, seen abandoned by a couple who drove away in a wagon. But it would not be an undeveloped scrub land for long. Industry was growing at the waterway, and after the Civil War, the blocks began to be with row houses, most of them wood framed. The blocks were relatively close to Green-Wood Cemetery, a popular tourist attraction as well as burial place; so traffic here on 18th and on the other Green-Wood Heights blocks was busier than one might think.
These two buildings were built sometime after the Civil War, but before 1888. Stylistically, I’d put them in the mid-1880s. They, and the rest of the row going towards 5th Avenue, are in place when the maps for 1888 were published. There was a wood framed house or building on the large lot to the left of 207A that is now the buff colored Renaissance Revival flats building. There was also a greenhouse complex on this side of the street, closer to 5th. Wood framed row houses dominated both sides of the block, at this point, and a large Methodist Church was in place across the street from here, up a bit towards 5th. That church is now gone Today it’s a Greek Orthodox Church.
On first glance, one might think these two buildings are an odd pair. 207A is a four story house and 209 is only three. The windows are not even lined up with each other. But they do share many similar features, and were obviously built at the same time, by the same builder. I hope to find the architect and builder one of these days. This neighborhood is not well documented. Stylistically, the house shares elements of the Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, and Neo-Grec styles, with a bit of terra cotta thrown in, making it a Queen Anne catch-all confection. (more…)
The Heights Cafe restaurant at 84 Montague Street re-opened earlier this month after six weeks of interior renovations. There is also a new menu, with new-American fare such as a lobster roll, oyster po-boy, a burger, veal and wild mushroom meatloaf and a ribeye.
Click through to the jump for an interior shot. Has anyone checked it out? GMAP
Huge and on a corner, this gem of a Greek Revival house at 15 Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights was built in 1834. The proportions are impressive: It’s 25.5 feet wide with five stories and 39 windows.
It has beautiful marble and wood Greek Revival fireplaces, dentil crown molding as well as the other moldings one would expect, tall windows on the parlor floor, and pier and mantel mirrors. There are also views of the harbor and bridge. A kitchen and bath don’t appear to have been updated too recently, but they look pleasant and usable as they are.
What we can’t figure out is the floor plan: Set up as a duplex over a triplex, quite a lot of what should be spacious rooms on the parlor and bedroom floors seems to be given over to a confusing maze of halls and stairs.
Perhaps a buyer could restore the original floor plan by creating a fourplex over a garden floor rental or a single family home. The house seems to have originally had a very grand center staircase. We hope it hasn’t been ruined.