Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row Houses
Address: 48-52 Cambridge Place
Cross Streets: Gates and Greene Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1887
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Mercein Thomas
Other buildings by architect: Methodist Home, now French Speaking 7th Day Adventist School, Crown Heights North, other houses in Clinton Hill, factories in DUMBO.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill HD (1981)
The story: The architect Mercein Thomas doesn’t appear here very often, but he was an important architect in the Clinton Hill neighborhood; his buildings appear on almost every block in the area. He designed over the course of at least 20 years, beginning in the late 1870s. Most of his buildings are in the Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne styles, although he also designed in other styles. He could be quite flashy when he wanted to, but more often than not, his designs are in the vein of this group; restrained and elegant.
As you can see from the other houses on both sides of this group, Cambridge Place had been built with many wood framed detached and semi-detached homes dating from the 1860s, or earlier. 48-52 Cambridge had been the site of a large wood framed villa belonging to an accountant named Lorenzo Ford. In 1887, Mercein Thomas designed this group for Parker Ford, who capitalized on his family plot to build not one, but three houses.
All of the houses are identical, and catch the eye, not because they are so special in any way, other than in their quiet elegance. Nestled between wood framed houses, across the street from other homes that are also very different, they offer a solid respite, and a definite sense of “home.” I like these a lot. GMAP