Building of the Day: 107 Pine Street

107 Pine St. CB, PS, 2008

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Private house
Address: 107 Pine Street
Cross Streets: Fulton Avenue and Ridgewood Street
Neighborhood: Cypress Hills
Year Built: Unknown, likely between 1886 and 1893
Architectural Style: Now it’s a Colonial Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story:
Look at this place! A Colonial Revival temple in the heart of East New York. What an unusual house, in an unusual place. You’ve got to wonder – was this house built with the oversized columns, or were they added later? Who lived here, and what were they thinking? You know there is a story behind these doors, and many questions still remain, but I was able to find out some interesting answers.

From looking at maps, it appears that 107 Pine Street was built somewhere between 1886 and 1893, those being the dates the maps we have were printed. That coincides with the development of Cypress Hills/East New York, a neighborhood that came into its own when the 26th Ward, once the Flatbush town of New Lots, was annexed into the city of Brooklyn in 1886. Several developers, including Edward Linton, who was the topic of this month’s Walkabouts, built blocks of homes for the people who were flocking out here from more crowded parts of the city. But this house was a one of a kind, a small cottage on a large lot. More than likely, the columns were not there. Stylistically, they definitely wouldn’t have been there at that period of time.

By 1900, the house belonged to an Englishwoman who put the property up for sale in 1903. The ad for the house read, “One half-block to “L” station, cosey (sic) cottage, improvements, big garden, fruit, extra lot, $3,600.” In 1904, the house belonged to another Englishman, a man named Frank Hockin. He was listed in the 1910 census as a staircase builder, and he built a workshop/factory at the rear of his property. He probably put the columns up, perhaps as advertisement for his business.

The timing for this is right, because in the early 1900s, the Colonial Revival Movement was in full swing, and many homes in upscale neighborhoods, like Prospect Park South, not all that far away in Flatbush, were sporting gigantic columns just like these, creating deep porches that made the houses look much larger than they actually were. This is actually a rather small house, only 18 by 28 feet, without the porch. Perhaps Mr. Hockin was showing his skills or the kinds of materials he could order, or perhaps he just liked the look. We’ll never know, but his handiwork remains.

Hockin lived here through the 1920 census, so he was probably the same man called “Frank Harkens” in a Brooklyn Eagle story about a homeowner, his next door neighbor, and his dog; a story that appeared in 1917. Frank had a very lively little dog who liked to jump. Apparently the dog jumped for everything and everyone, and when there wasn’t anything else to jump for, would jump over the fence into the neighbor’s yard.

The neighbor, Mrs. Lillian Schlacter, wasn’t as enamored of the dog, especially in her garden, and the three foot fence wasn’t working. Mr. Hockin (Harkens) put up a five foot fence, but the dog jumped over that one just as easily. Mrs. Schlacter went to the magistrate, at that point, where Frank offered to put up a ten foot fence, but Mrs. Schlacter didn’t like that idea. The magistrate told him he must have had a dog that could jump over the moon, and he should think up another way to keep the dog from jumping over the fence. The case was dismissed, with Frank responsible for restraining his pooch. Perhaps he could have put up a row of these columns.

Apparently, there is another house in East New York with the same columns, 81 Essex Street. I checked. Yep. Same columns. Perhaps Mr. Hockin had another taker, it really is quite a stunning look, a Greek temple among vinyl sided row houses. These two houses are priceless. It’s amazing the columns survived, and survived really well. Every man (and woman) deserves a Tara. GMAP

I had come up with some of this information myself, but checked the Source of ENY info, the East New York Project, to see if they had anything. They did – a wealth of information, and a lead to the Essex Street house. Neighborhood blogs like this are a joy and a vital source of information. Thank you, ENYP.

(Photo:Christopher Bride for Property Shark)

1908 map: East New York Project

1908 map: East New York Project

1958 Photo: Brooklyn Historical Society

1958 Photo: Brooklyn Historical Society

81 Essex Street, also in ENY. Photo: Nicholas Strini for Property Shark

81 Essex Street, also in ENY. Photo: Nicholas Strini for Property Shark

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