Building of the Day: 93 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Tenement building
Address: 93 Clermont Avenue
Cross Streets: Myrtle and Park Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene/Wallabout
Year Built: 1889
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Rudolphe L. Daus
Other buildings by architect: Lincoln Club in Clinton Hill, New York and New Jersey Telephone Company Building in Downtown Brooklyn, 13th Regiment Armory in Bedford Stuyvesant, as well as houses and other buildings in Brownstone Brooklyn.
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed greater Wallabout HD.

The story: Talk about your non-contextual buildings, 19th century style. This walk-up flats building was designed to house some of the many workers and their families who worked in the factories, Wallabout Market, or at the Navy Yard. By 1889, Wallabout was one of Brooklyn’s larger factory districts, with many different industries vying for workers here, near the waterfront. The Wallabout Market, along with many food industries, the Mergenthaler Corporation and other factories, as well as the Navy Yard, were powerful draws for workers, and they had to live somewhere. By 1890, over 93,000 people worked in the Wallabout neighborhood, comprising one sixth of the workers of New York State. What a busy neighborhood this must have been, like a hive humming with thousands of worker bees. It’s amazing how much was here, and disheartening to see how little remains today.

Wallabout’s housing stock is as varied as the industry here. The vast majority of it consisted of small wood framed houses, originally built for single families, but by the end of the 19th century, many were subdivided into apartments or made into boarding houses. Houses from as early as the 1830s and ’40s are still here. Later, the blocks began to fill with brick or brownstone row houses, and by the end of the century, tenement apartment buildings began to pop up here and there.

This building sits amidst much lower two- and three-story buildings and seems to loom over them. Unlike many of the earlier homes in the neighborhood, designed by vernacular builders, this apartment building has an architect, and a pretty impressive one, at that. Rudolphe Daus was one of Brooklyn’s best and busiest architects, with an impressive career designing everything from Carnegie libraries to private clubs, an armory, and buildings for the telephone company as well as lots of private houses.

Daus was the child of German parents, born in Mexico City. He was educated at the prestigious L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and worked for eminent architects Richard Morris Hunt and George Post before going out on his own. He set up his office in Downtown Brooklyn in 1884, and began a career that would be quite successful.

This one paid the rent. He was in business for five years when the commission for this building came to him, and it’s a nice but unremarkable building. Daus was well on his way for his great commissions: the New York and New Jersey Telephone Company Building, the Lincoln Club, four Carnegie libraries, St. John’s Home for Boys, churches, row houses, office buildings and more. GMAP
(Photo: Wallabout Cultural Resource Survey, 2005)

Photo: Sarah Westcott for PropertyShark, 2005

1980s Tax Photo: Municipal Archives