Did the Developer of 190 President Street Brownstone Over a Marble Facade?

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Did the developer of 190 President Street cover over the building’s marble facade with brownstone slurry when they renovated the interior? Why? Yesterday, we wrote about the building now leasing apartments, and one of our commenters pointed out that the building appeared to have lost its marble facade. As a facade material, marble is both more expensive and durable than actual brownstone. There are only a handful of marble-clad residential buildings in New York City. Now there is apparently one fewer. Click through to the jump to see the previous facade.

After photo by Aptsandlofts.com
Before photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

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35 Comment

  • Why? Because you should never underestimate what some people will pay to live in a “brownstone.”

  • I know I’m probably going to start a war with my comment, but these marble facades in my opinion though more durable, are really ugly in person. They do however photograph well like in the very top photo listed above. I recently saw the Evans & Nye property on Decatur from the outside only, and boy was that a really horrible site to see – No fault of theirs or the owners, but just a poor decision on the architect/ developer. If they had done limestone or brownstone it would have been so much better. I do wish with the property above that they would have at least bothered to recreate the architectural details on the exterior instead of going plain Jane on it. Also whoever is responsible for creating this faux brownstone could have done a much better job – The mix is not very convincing.

  • daveinbedstuy

    WOW…never underestimate the stupidity of a “developer”

    If they did, I’m going to predict that it doesn’t last. It has to be very hard to get the appropriate base and scratch surface for the new “brownstoning” which, as we all know, is just brown mortar.

    And yes, the windows are fugly. Isn’t this landmarked????

  • Arkady

    Yuck! Not only are the windows ugly, they’re significantly smaller: dumb! And the old door was a lot nicer too.

  • daveinbedstuy

    I’m sure the developer’s name will be unpronounceable.

  • In fairness, it looks a lot worse because the after photo is so distorted (compare the building on the far right).

  • They also took all the nice Italianate detail off the building – awful.

    The marble used for this type of building in this period was usually Tuckahoe marble, a stone from Westchester that does not fare well in general and in NYC in particular. You see a lot of it in Tribeca and in other pre-Civil War neighborhoods. Compositionally, Tuckahoe (and other Westchester) marble is a lot closer to limestone than a “pure” marble – this was not a stone that you polished, particularly not in a facade installation. Given the large size of the aggregate of the stone, it deteriorates badly in many cases. Compared to an Indiana limestone, Tuckahoe is much less dense and much less uniform. And since it is a marble, it attracts dirt from the acidic environment (like limestone).

    Still, no excuse for taking an exceptional facade and making entirely unexceptional. The stone cleans pretty easily and is fairly easy to patch.

  • East New York

    Why all the hate? If the building isn’t landmarked, they didn’t break any laws. Maybe not everyone likes marble. Plus I suspect the buyer didn’t come to Brand Brooklyn to lease a MARBLE-stone, they want to lease a BROWNstone, OK?!? What on earth is the sense in assuming the haughty mantle of landlord in Brand Brooklyn without adhering to ALL of the trends? As if!

    • Just because they didnt break any laws doesnt mean people should chastise these peeps for defacing a nice facade…..if they changed it but made it good, nobody would be complaining. There are ways to do what they did well, they didnt.

  • WOW. That is terrible. TERRIBLE. Amazing that the LPC makes people jump through hoops to restore windows and this happens. Amazing marketing opportunity lost – Marble House is brilliant. Its variety of buildings that make cities interesting- keep the marble!

  • I am familiar with these buildings, and the marble is badly deteriorated. There was probably some possibility that the stone could have been cleaned and polished, but it was badly pitted and weathered. I think that it may have been poor quality stone to start with. the most durable white surface is limestone, which looks as good now as 100 years ago.

    I have more of a problem with the tiny windows and the crappy faux brick stoop and fence. Anyone restoring a house should always revert to the original large windows; this developer really cheaped-out!

  • East New York

    Who says it’s not good? Beauty if in the eye of the beholder, brother. Like I said, not everyone likes marble. This is a free country and they spent good money to make it look the way they want, and didn’t break any laws. Don’t like it? Tough.

  • As others have pointed out, the other thing that is going on here is the windows. There seems to be a trend these days in removing and realigning floor heights in old buildings to eke a little extra floor area, and that looks to be what happened here. It is NOT the perspective of the photo – look at the alignment of the sills to the buildings on either side before and after. It looks like the basement got a bit taller, the parlor floor a lot shorter and the two floors above that have gotten squeezed down too. By doing this, they’ve made a better apartment in the basement and added half a floor at the top (windows at the rear but not the front) with a roof deck above. But all the floors above the basement probably have lower floor to ceiling heights than the historic, and windows on the front have gotten a lot meaner.

    ENY may like it, but there is really nothing good about the renovation on the outside.

    • daveinbedstuy

      I really doubt that they were raising and lowering floor/ceiling heights. it’s just smaller windows, which are a lot cheaper.

      • I don’t know in this particular case, but I have been seeing more and more of this up north where I am. Developers are buying up these smaller houses, which usually come with some sort of height limit, and realigning floor heights and windows to squeeze out some extra development rights. Looking at the floor plans, that sure seems to be the case here – it would allow them to add the duplex floor at the top without hitting the contextual zoning height limits. Check out the alignment of the third (top) floor windows compared to the building to the right – they are a good 3′ to 4′ lower, which I think can only happen if you move the location of the floor itself.

  • Has anyone seen the carnage at 29 First Street in Carroll Gardens? In the middle of seventeen red brick houses that are more than a century old someone has painted the building a bright yellow. An apparent lack of taste and context!

  • East New York

    Well I don’t necessarily like it, but I do like upbraiding elitists. Makes my day.

  • As a resident of the block I’d hoped the developer would have tried to restore the building. Instead, he covered the facade with scaffolding and took off all the marble. He then had the cheapest brownstone job I have ever seen and I’ve been in Brooklyn for 20 years. Usually a layer of concrete is applied and the contractor lets it sit for at least 6 months before applying the brownstone layer. There was no prep here and it was applied in such a fashion that there are no straight edges. The marble facades on President Street have lasted at least 150 years. Also, the front door was original. Now, there’s a home depot door totally inappropriate for the building. This is the most grotesque example of profiteering I’ve seen.

  • I walked through 192 President back when the units were on the market. The developer of 192 did a beautiful job restoring the facade. I would walk by this strip just to admire the row of marble facades…very special.

  • I took a walk by the building today and it really is a mess. If you look at the floor plans at apartments and lofts, you’ll see that the reduced window size is most likely due to them realigning the floors to create more headroom in the attic for the upper duplex as someone mentioned earlier. It is not the angle of the new photograph that makes the windows appear shorter, they are indeed shorter and the alignment has changed significantly leaving the whole facade feeling a little top heavy. By far the worst offense is the front door….. a lowes suburban special replacing a beautiful original door….what a shame. But if you look at the interior photos, the outside is not such a surprise. Really uninspired.

  • Chalk this up as a consequence of an overly illogical obsession with brownstone.