Historic, Fire-Ravaged Bed-Stuy Mansion Probably a Goner


As noted on Monday, a fire broke out over the weekend at the historic Bedford-Stuyvesant house 804 Jefferson Avenue and the house next to it. Yesterday, in the early evening, reader David Keegan stopped by the scene to see how the properties were faring, and took the photo above, as well as the one on the jump. David had this to say: “When I stopped by, at about 5 p.m., there was a crew pulling beams out of both 804 Jefferson and the adjacent house. They were also walling off the front yards from the sidewalk with plywood sheets. There was a cop out front from the 81st Precinct who was none to happy to see me on the sidewalk with a camera. …I asked her if anyone was hurt in the fire; she said no.” David also adds: “The devastation is such a shame; those were once someones’ beautiful homes, and jewels in the neighborhood.” So sad. It does not look like the property is long for this world. For more history on 804 Jefferson, read Montrose Morris’s article about it from a year-and-a-half ago.
Fire at Historic Bed-Stuy House [Brownstoner] GMAP
Walkabout: The House at 804 Jefferson Ave. [Brownstoner]

13 Comment

  • wow! that cupola looks very dangerous. It could be toppled over by a gust of wind. Looks like only the masonry facades are left.

  • Argh, this is awful. So many beautiful and unique structures have been lost to fire over the centuries :(

  • This is really a shame. Whatever the story was with the owner, whether it was in individual who didn’t have the money to do the necessary work, or a bank that was just sitting on it, it goes to show that abandoned properties like this need an advocate and there needs to be some kind of special circumstance law that allows derelict properties to be taken by parties who have the will and ability to rehab and use them.

    As someone who loves old buildings, and of course, would have a fondness for big old white elephants like this, it just gets me that it was allowed to sit for so long rotting. Before the fire, it could have been saved, and put back on the tax roles, either as apartments, or one heck of a single family, or as home to some kind of organization. Now it’s going to be a very large empty lot, and then a row of Fedders. The neighborhood deserves much better, the fire department doesn’t need to be risking life and limb in a dangerous trap like this, and we could have kept one of the last of the suburban mansions, a part of Eastern Bed Stuy’s forgotten past, with us to enjoy. Dammit.

    • You are so right Montrose. I don’t blame you for being angry. You have a great idea here. Like children in peril who are given “guardians” before the law, there should be something similar in place for old houses/buildings in jeopardy. They need an advocate.

    • You are so right Montrose. I don’t blame you for being angry. You have a great idea here. Like children in peril who are given “guardians” before the law, there should be something similar in place for old houses/buildings in jeopardy. They need an advocate.

  • From the 2010 “walkabout” on 804 Decatur. Quoting MM:

    “Neighbors tell me they hope something good happens to the building soon, as it is now a blight on their block, and they are afraid of fire…The basic structure of the mansion looks sound, the porch is in remarkably good shape, and the grounds are spacious. The Rumph Mansion is in need of some deep pockets and vision to bring it back to life. Charles Rumph, silk merchant and good citizen of Brooklyn, would be very happy to see the house he loved restored to its former glory. Any takers?”

    Prescient. Alas.

  • Huge bummer, such a pretty house. Hope the fire was not intentional (as in owner trying to cash in some insurance money).

  • You all need to remember that even though it is Brooklyn, we are still part of the United States. Private property is protected by the constitution from government taking. The protected status of private property is one of the cornerstones of the American way of life. While it would make sense to somehow repossess properties that are clearly being neglected and abused, it is not that easy. The Landmarks Commission does have its “demolition by neglect” standards but it is a very tenuous. In my personal experience the worst offenders are not greedy owners who want to torch their properties for the insurance money but rather, hoarders. People with a mental disability that prevents them from letting go of any piece of trash let alone a house they have inherited from parent or (usually) divorced spouse. I have been there so many times….It is heartbreaking and nearly impossible to speak rationally to these people about their possessions. Until some kind of medication is found for this condition, many valuable properties will be left to rot and ruin.