Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row houses
Address: 87-93 Cambridge Place
Cross Streets: Gates Avenue and Fulton Street
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1863
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: William Montgomery (builder)
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill HD (1981)
The story: These four houses may be the only ones of their kind in the entire city, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 1981 report on the Clinton Hill Historic District. They certainly are among the most charming houses in the area. The distinctive bays with the vertical wooden slats between the windows are very visually appealing, as well as wonderfully restored. They were built by local builder William Montgomery as speculative housing.
This part of Cambridge Place is a time machine, showing some of the earliest development in the area, when the housing stock was a mixture of row houses and free-standing villas. The building materials used were also varied, with brownstone, stucco covered brick, and clapboard appearing all along the block. One of the unifying elements to the block are the tall parlor floor windows, a dominant feature of most variations on the Italianate style, and all of these houses, some of which are really quite small and narrow, have them.
This group of four features a combination of stucco and wood, with the wood becoming an ornamental feature in the bays. These bays had the slats, the wooden colonettes set between the windows, and ornamental cornices separating the parlor and second floors. Number 93 is a half story taller than the other three, and was probably raised at some point, but at a time when the builders took care to keep the original lines of the building intact. They raised the roof, adding full length windows. The other three houses have their original small rectangular attic windows.
The houses are a comfortable 20 feet wide, and are now mostly two families now, although they were built as one family homes. The tax photos from the 1980s show that at the time of historic designation, only one of the houses, No. 89, had its vertical clapboards intact. The other houses had been stuccoed completely, and were painted in various colors. The restoration of this unique trimming and the coloration and details of the whole group now makes these houses just exquisite, and a visual joy. I hope their owners feel that way as well. GMAP