Historic Bed Stuy Brownstone on Jefferson Avenue Headed for Auction


A once-elaborate brownstone at 272 Jefferson Avenue will be auctioned off by New York State Aug. 21. It’s not a foreclosure auction; rather, the property has been owned by New York State since 1971, and now they’re getting rid of it. At one point, it was operated as an alternative school by the state, but has been empty for a few years, a tipster told us. The garden floor “is pretty much an industrial kitchen,” but the parlor floor and staircase are intact and in “beautiful condition,” she said. We’re not sure who designed this house, but it is across the street from the George P. Chappell corner house at 271 Jefferson Avenue. They’re not giving it away; the minimum bid is $770,000.

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

19 Comment

  • Hey guy’s feast your eyes on the interior photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nysogs/sets/72157634702024851/

    This is place is sadly a wreck :-(. Massive property but in need of a gut renovation. A developer will probably pick up this property. Regular homes buyers need not apply. This place is truly setup as a school, not a home.
    The photos I think will give you full insight as to how much work you’ll have to put into this property. I would guess at least $300K or more… the layout is such a mess and a shame.

    • Oops, sorry about those Typos.

    • Photos don’t show a wreck at all. 300K is commonplace for a bona fide restoration.

      Pre-crash (the next phase), 770K is a “giveaway”.

      • I’m not sure if we looked at the same photos but the only detail left to restore is in the parlor. I wouldn’t call this a restoration project. As the state removed most of what I think makes these homes beautiful (completely subjective). 300K is being quite generous on my part as that is sticking up crappy Sheetrock walls and doing a botched job focused on generating either rental income or crap condos-(thinking from Dev. perspective here). 300K would work for the typical home configurations whereas this is setup like a school. Let me also remind you this is not like the school in park slope that was housed in a townhouse, but maintained the rich integrity of the home. See image below.

        770K is the start that’s obviously not what the property is going to sell for given the insane sq. footage as well as bay windows. It just probably wont end up in the hands of an avg joe like you or myself given the scope of work that would need to be done. Ie. Not a turn key property.

  • When I moved on to this block in 1983, it was a funeral home. Probably had a lot more detail then. I remember some stained glass disappeared as time went on. The state made it a group center for troubled youth in the 1990s. Our block association tried to stop it, but it was a done deal by the time we heard about it. In fairness to the state, they ran a very tight ship, and at least when I lived on the block, the kids were cool, and under control. I also remember when they “renovated” it, as detail after detail came out and was tossed before it could even be salvaged, at least.

    I think this would be a great project for a potential homeowner, because you have a blank slate to reconfigure as best suits, and there is at least some detail left, and it’s really nice. It is really too bad it’s mostly all gone. Perhaps the house next door has the detail, if someone wanted to replace it, they’d at least have a template to go by. But Omar is right, a developer with cash in hand will probably snap it up.

    I loved this block, and so much is going on here now.

    • I definitely agree with you Montrose, this is a block that is also dear to my heart as my family has lived on it since 1941. This house would be a great canvas for an inventive architect. I personally wouldn’t hold onto the detail left behind, simply because conceptually I don’t think it would make sense anymore if you went the contemporary route. You could also hire the Architect Peter Pennoyer and he could design you a brand new classical interior which would be phenomenal.

      • There is no such thing as “contemporary route” in my vocabulary, Omar. Sorry! I’d keep what’s there, and work to put more back. : )

        In an ideal world, it’s not the kind of place I’d buy, because I want architectural detail, the more, the better. But that’s me. I can see someone keeping what’s there, and making it work with a more contemporary look. People do it all the time.

        • I went on a house tour in Harlem recently, where they did a gut reno on a town house, super “modern”. I thought I would hate it because I love classical buildings, but it actually was quite beautiful. Reminiscent of a soho loft. Montrose it seems like Peter would definitely be the man for you here. He does classical architecture for today and has actually built brand new town homes from scratch that are done from top to bottom with classical detail. Worth while checking out. I’m not personally into it when people mix and match. From my experience It’s rare that they are successful in finding a nice blend that is actually seamless.

      • Omar, we must be neighbors. I think the alternative school program was residential, and I don’t think it’s 2 years since they moved out. The building across the street went for A LOT of money, and they are still working on it. I just noticed the auction sign a few minutes ago. Is the building zoned as a residence?

        • Hey rf, This building is listed as a 3 unit Multi-Family Walk-up Building. The building across the street has an apartment unit back up for rent on Corcoran. Also random side note you might have seen this the gut reno taking place at 258 Jefferson Ave. From the looks of it, they have ripped what little detail was left out. Maybe possible condo conversion???

          • Hi Omar, I thought about starting this by saying that I’d heard that the new owners are putting in a Whole Foods, but I didn’t want to start a public outcry. I can tell you that we’re doing something less than a full gut reno, and that there wasn’t much original detail in the house when we bought it. We’re trying to save as much detail as we can, and haven’t ripped out any. The staircase is gorgeous, and there are some original moldings around the windows that we had stripped. There’s one fireplace mantle, some old tile, a skylight that we’re restoring, and that’s about it. I’m also sorry to disappoint, but no condo conversion. Just an owner’s duplex and two rental units.

          • I guess this site may have reached it’s max on reply tree, just wanted to respond to Brett.

            Hey Brett, that’s actually great to hear. My family lives just a couple doors down from you so we’re neighbors. I was a little freaked out the other day as I passed by and saw all of this work being done on your interior + the two neighbors across the street also doing a lot of interior work as well, so btwn. all of that it was a bit unnerving…lol
            Yeah sadly I am aware of the lack of detail that remained in your house from the listing. I was just curious if what remained was being held onto. Glad to hear your trying to keep some of it. Also Great that you were able to convince Whole Food to relocate to Cobble Hill…LOL.
            Too bad one of the previous owners clipped your staircase to the parlor floor. That’s def. one thing that drives me nuts! Especially since your the only one on block with those stairs missing (Just me rambling as an Architect…sorry). Maybe you’ll bring it back one day :-)
            Thankfully there are many people on our block that have the exact same house as you as a reference to build off of (Me just wishful thinking)

            Correct if I’m wrong was that house owned by the church next door?
            That church has such an amazing history, originally having a bell Tower similar to Boys High, sadly burned down and rebuilt as it looks today. Would have been a nice end cap to our block :-(

          • Hi Omar,

            Feel free to stop by or if you see me outside. You are not alone in wanting to restore the steps — which happen to be in my back yard! My fiance wants to bring them back, but we will need to pass around a hat. Maybe some day.

            We had all of the remaining moldings stripped and are going to leave them that way to add some warmth. The design will be modern — we didn’t have much of a choice with the condition the place was in. The online pictures don’t begin to tell the story. But the dimensions and space are still grand and we are incorporating existing original details into our design, so it should be nice.

            The house was not owned by the church. It was an individual owner. In the past, I believe that the house served as a group home of some sort, and was at one time used as an 8 family. It was originally built in 1890 by John F. Saddington and Frederick D. Vrooman (thanks for the tip MM), so my guess would be that they are responsible for the identical houses on the block.

            I’ve been inside 261 Jefferson and they have more original detail than I do and are preserving a lot/all of it from what I can see.

            Anyway, see you around.

  • The house, as well as its neighbors, was designed by W. R. Bell, who also developed and built the houses, in 1888. He designed 272-278 Jefferson.

    • Pretty cool! I am interested in finding out the history on my recently purchased home in Bed Stuy. How would I go about doing this ?

      • Look up your address in the Brooklyn Eagle, http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/Default/Skins/BEagle/Client.asp?Skin=BEagle

        You might luck out with the Eagle, but would have a better chance finding it in an issue of the Real Estate Record and Builder’s Guide, which is supposed to have a listing of most of what was built in the mid to late 1800s, up to 1922. It’s not complete, and can be frustrating, but type your street name in there and root around, you might find it. Use “apostrophes” around your street addy, or you’re toast, you’ll never find it. Looking up the actual address probably won’t work, as the lots were not listed by address but by their distance from the corner of the street. http://rerecord.cul.columbia.edu/index.php

        You could also go down to the Buildings Dept and pull your file, it might be in there, if the original blueprints are there. You never know. If your house is one of a group built at the same time, you might have to look in all of the folders in that group. Sometimes there is only one set of blueprints or the entire group, and they are only in one folder.

        Good luck.