The BOTD is a no-frills look at interesting structures of all types and from all neighborhoods. There will be old, new, important, forgotten, public, private, good and bad. Whatever strikes our fancy. We hope you enjoy.
Address: 4302 4th Avenue, corner of 43rd Street
Name: Former 68th Precinct House and Stable, originally 18th Precinct House and Stable
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: 1886
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Emile Gruwe
Landmarked: Yes, individually landmarked in 1983.
Thanks to the Benson South Brooklyn Tour Guide Service, I’ve gotten to a couple of new neighborhoods. I’ve seen this building in passing, over the years, but finally got to take some photos.
Even in the advancing state of decrepitude that it is in, it’s a magnificent building, and a wonderful example of Romanesque Revival design. It combines R-R standard massing, materials and shapes with a seasoning of Venetian and Norman Romanesque design in the shape of the upper floor windows, trimmings, and the very Norman arched portico, complete with thick, squat granite columns.
There is so much detail in the building, much of which can’t be seen because of the scaffolding. Particularly wonderful are the dogs’ faces carved into the Byzantine leafwork bandcourses.
Little is known about the architect, Emile Gruwe, but he did design another almost identical precinct house for the 75th precinct in East New York. That building, at 484 Liberty Avenue, is now a Baptist Church.
This building was an active precinct house until 1970, when the 68th merged with another Sunset Park precinct, and the building was closed. There was a fire in 1980, but the building was still slated to become the Sunset Park School of Music, but the funding obviously never came through.
A sign on the front of the fencing dates back to the Cuomo governorship, and we’re not talking Andrew. The Brooklyn Chinese American Association is now the owner of record, and in 2004 filed plans for a community center. Hopefully this important example of 19th century precinct architecture can be saved.
There aren’t too many left, and this is one of the finest. It must have been quite impressive to the residents of Sunset Park in its heyday. It could be quite impressive again.
[Photos by Suzanne Spellen]