Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Wood frame house
Address: 438 Grand Avenue
Cross Streets: Gates Avenue and Fulton Street
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1865
Architectural Style: Vernacular Victorian
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill HD (1981)
The story: While the architect-designed impressive homes of the rich and well-to-do in our neighborhoods are the driving stuff of picture books, house tours, and newspaper and blog articles, it’s very often the unheralded vernacular homes of the more everyday people that warm our hearts, and give us visions of hearth and home. That’s why houses like this one will still be desirable, no matter what the whims and foibles of urban home popularity.
This house, with its large and inviting porch and full height parlor floor windows, is a charmer.
The porch with balustered railing is original, as is the sidewalk fencing and the gate. When the house was landmarked in 1981, it was covered in synthetic brick, so it’s nice to see a more period touch in the shingles that cover it today.
Vernacular architecture takes its cues from the styles of the day, with the builder incorporating whatever catches his fancy. Gothic Revival elements are in evidence in the peaked windows and dormer in the upper floor, adding a whimsical charm to an already charming house.
The house seemed to be home to a number of Ivy League college students or recent graduates during the latter half of the 19th century, interestingly enough; they are the only people I was able to find in a very basic search of the address. In 1875, this house was home to William Woodcock Sharp, who was attending Columbia University as a special student.
In 1897, this house was home to 26-year-old John Beach Kirkland. He had traveled to California for his health, but died of consumption in Pasadena after a long illness. Young Mr. Kirkland had been active in social clubs, and was a member of the nearby Republican Lincoln Club, as well as the Kismet Temple of the Order of the Mystic Shrine.
And finally, 438 Grand was home to Furman “Sport” Kneeland, an 1889 Princeton grad who was in the grocery business in 1904, when his alumni association published their yearbook. He lived here with his wife and young daughter. This little house, tucked in between brownstones, has seen a lot of lives pass through it. A comfortable hearth and home — it never fails. GMAP