Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Flats building
Address: 324 Sixth Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner 3rd Street
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1893
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival/Queen Anne
Architect: W.M. Coots
Other buildings by architect: Row houses and flats buildings throughout Brooklyn, including in Crown Heights North, Bedford Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights, Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill.
Landmarked: No, but the whole neighborhood really should be.
The story: Developer Louis Bonert (often spelled Bonnert) was one of those people who built Brooklyn, and yet are almost completely unknown today. In the last quarter of the 19th century, he single handedly developed vast swaths of Park Slope, including almost all of 3rd Street, from Seventh Avenue north. The wonderfully informative blog Save the Slope has dedicated a lot of posts to Mr. Bonert, and rightfully so, as he was responsible for so much of the area being built up with quality buildings. This building was one of them.
Fortunately, Peter Ross and William Smith Pelletreau included Louis Bonert as one of the city’s movers and shakers in their “History of Long Island,” or we wouldn’t know anything at all about this man. He was born in Prussia and came to the United States in 1859, when he was sixteen. He apprenticed in the building trades, and worked on framing the building where the wires used to build the Brooklyn Bridge were galvanized, making the acquaintance of John Roebling and other important engineers and builders.
By 1876, he was a builder and general contractor, and began buying real estate and developing. Brooklyn’s neighborhoods were growing rapidly, but the inexperienced Bonert would suffer through some serious losses before turning the corner and achieving success after success. He built houses throughout Park Slope and Prospect Heights, mostly, becoming one of the Slope’s largest builders. By the end of the 1880s, he began to turn from row houses to flats and apartment buildings, realizing that this would be the wave of housing for the future.
His buildings on 3rd Street alone are worthy of a longer article, but suffice it to say that he built very beautiful multi-unit flats on both sides of the block, using some of Brooklyn’s better architects. In 1893, he crossed 6th Avenue, and developed this corner building and the four adjacent flats buildings. The corner building, 324 6th Ave, originally had a storefront on the ground floor and apartments above.
W.M. Coots, who designed the buildings, also was a familiar name in Brooklyn architecture. He was quite prolific in the same neighborhoods where Louis Bonert developed and built, and the two men have other buildings in common.
The corner building is quite different in materials from its neighbors, so I’ve singled it out for this post. On the day I photographed it, last spring, the cherry trees were in full bloom, with the wonderful background of the shingled turret and tower. The fish scales on the tower, along with the Queen Anne details are just great. Today, the building is a four unit co-operative. GMAP