Building of the Day: 360 Pacific Street

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Frame house
Address: 360 Pacific Street
Cross Streets: Hoyt and Bond Streets
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Year Built: 1851
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes, part of Boerum Hill HD (1973)

The story: Boerum Hill was settled by Dutch farmers as long ago as 1645, and is part of old Breuckelen town. By the time the City of Brooklyn was incorporated in 1836, the area belonged to the Gerritson and Martense families, who were related by marriage, and had adjoining estates in what is now Boerum Hill’s historic district. By the 1840s, Charles Hoyt and Russell Nevins had purchased the Martense estate and had divided it into lots. The development of Boerum Hill was on its way.

The Gerritson family also began selling lots, and by the 1840s and ‘50s, Pacific Street had houses on it. The earliest houses in the neighborhood were in the Greek Revival style, both brick and frame houses. This is one of the frames, built upon a brick ground floor foundation. This house, at 360 Pacific, was built in 1851 for Elizabeth and Thomas Westervelt.

Most houses at this time were built by competent builders, without the help of architects. The builders used style books to pick the decorative features they wanted, as well as well-used plans, and experience, to construct the houses themselves. The result is a vernacular style that is recognizable in the older parts of Brownstone Brooklyn, from Brooklyn Heights to Fort Greene, Clinton, Cobble, and Boerum Hills.

Like many Greek Revival frame homes, this one has the long parlor floor windows, the six over six windows above on the top floors, and the deep inviting porch. It all sits on a brick faced basement level, almost hidden by the front yard and the porch. The ornate Corinthian capped fluted columns are quite striking, sheltering the double doors, which are a late 19th century addition.

The house was blessed with the lot next door, at 362, which served as a garden to the property for much of its existence. Next door, on the other side, the Cuyler Presbyterian Church was built in 1892, and this house became the parsonage for the church. Cuyler Presbyterian became well known as the cornerstone of the Mohawk community in Brooklyn. The church building was put on the National Register in 2001.

In 1995, John and Cynthia Gillis rented the house, and got an option to buy the empty garden lot next door. They designed and built the four story building that is 362 Pacific Street. They had to adhere to strict landmarking standards, resulting in a building that is contextual to the block, a task they succeeded in quite well. Today, their garden stretches over the back of both properties. GMAP (Photograph from Wikipedia Commons)

Panorama photos by Scott Bintner for PropertyShark, 2007

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