Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Originally Maillard Canda home, now an eight unit co-op
Address: 121 Eighth Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Carroll Street
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1894
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Montrose W. Morris
Other buildings by architect: Hulbert Mansion (Poly Prep School) on Prospect Park West, 143-153 8th Ave, 16-19 and 22 Prospect Park West, and buildings in Bed Stuy, Crown Heights North, Clinton Hill and elsewhere.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Park Slope HD (1973)
The story: Maillard Canda was a building materials manufacturer who incorporated his business, the Canda and Mathews Manufacturing Company, in 1890. He and his partners, Robert H. Mathews and W.B. Greenman, made and sold construction materials and invested in real estate. The Canda family also wanted to settle into Brooklyn society, and in 1894 commissioned Montrose Morris, one of the foremost architects to Brooklyn’s well-to-do, to design a fine new home on the corner of Carroll Street and Eighth Avenue. The house would be right across the street from the Adams mansion, and near the homes of other prominent residents of Park Slope. The city records show that the house was placed in the name of Mrs. L.C. Greenman, who was probably Mrs. Maillard Canda. She was born Lillian Greenman, and her brother was one of her husband’s partners. It was, and still is, a common practice for husbands to put property in their wives’ names, for liability and tax purposes.
At any rate, hiring Montrose Morris did not come cheap. The New York Times real estate section on Nov. 9, 1894, listed filings for new building permits, and happened to list this building just ahead of a listing for a 16-family, five-story apartment building with stores on the ground floor. The upscale apartment building, called the “Macon,” was designed by George P. Chappell, and sits on a nice block in Bedford. The Morris/Canda single-family house cost $28,000 to build, and the much larger apartment building cost only a few thousand dollars more, at $35,000. The average upper-middle-class row house at the time cost around $12,000 to build.
Morris designed a neo-Renaissance palazzo for the Candas. A departure from many of Morris’ previous buildings, which were in the Romanesque Revival style, such as the Adams house across the street, this house embraced the classicism of the Beaux-Arts, coming out of the City Beautiful/White Cities buildings of the 1893 Chicago World’s Exhibition. All of the rest of his houses in Park Slope after that date would be in the same style, and he did them quite well, especially the group of houses a block away on Prospect Park West. For the Candas, he used white brick, limestone and his signature terra-cotta trim, creating a handsome house that would be the model for the houses next door, which wouldn’t be built until eight years later.
The Canda family was active in Brooklyn’s society world; Mrs. Canda was mentioned often for her soirées and card parties. She and members of the Greenman family also hosted fine dinner parties and private dance events. They lived in the house through at least 1919, the last reference I found for them at this address. But, like many of Brooklyn’s elite, the Candas decamped to Manhattan. When Lillian Canda died in 1938, she was living at the Plaza Hotel. Her husband had died much earlier. Today, the elegant Canda house is an eight unit co-op. GMAP