The House That Helped Launch a Brownstone Revolution Is for Sale


The front hall still has its original painted decoration from 1886. The parlor floor is described as “museum quality” — in fact, photos of the whole house are in the Brooklyn Museum’s archives. Four pages in the brownstoner bible “Bricks and Brownstone” show the house’s rear parlor, entry way, and wood work and plaster details. The Evelyn and Everett Ortner house is for sale. You might say this house, at 272 Berkeley Place, saved Park Slope and launched the brownstone movement across the country.

The house is on the market following the death of Everett Ortner last year. (Evelyn Ortner died in 2006; the couple left no immediate family.) Passionate historic preservationists, their accomplishments, well-documented in countless articles, are almost too many to mention. Evelyn Ortner’s obituary in the New York Times said that she, along with her husband, “was among the first, the most vocal and the most effective champions of the brownstone revival that spread from Brooklyn to the rest of the country.” Most crucially, she “did much of the historical research that persuaded the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee to designate the Park Slope historic district in 1973.”

As for the house, it comes with one, presumably rent controlled, occupant. We were surprised to see the layout is not original on every floor. The kitchen was moved upstairs and replaced by a ground-floor bedroom. The upstairs floors appear to have lost their pass-throughs (going by the floor plan). The house is configured with rentals in the front rooms of the top and third floors. The “printable feature sheet,” well worth reading, that accompanies the listing notes the house contains original gas fixtures (adapted for electricity), the original furnace (still working), and a “historic inclinator,” aka a staircase lift for handicapped accessibility, dating from the 1920s. Click through to the jump for some photos of the interior.

The Ortners bought it in 1963 for $32,000. We hope whoever buys it next won’t paint over the front hall. Oh, by the way, the new price is $4,800,000.

272 Berkeley Place Listing [Coldwell Banker Bellmarc/Vandenberg]
Photo above by PropertyShark




31 Comment

  • This Sunday’s open house should draw a large crowd. This is the house where the late Evelyn and Everett Ortner hosted receptions and dinners in their elegant Victorian parlor floor as part of their efforts to entice young couples to purchase brownstones in Park Slope and Brooklyn’s other historic neighborhoods and to encourage bankers to mortgage these properties. The Ortners also were responsible for having a significant portion of Park Slope declared one of New York City’s first Historic Districts. Thanks in large part to their unflagging efforts, Park Slope was transformed from a neighborhood in decline to the viable community that it is today.

    The Ortner’s four-story brownstone, which is the building to the right of the large brick and granite mansion, has a three story extension. It would be delivered vacant and would make a lovely spacious one or two family home.

  • The person currently living there is not a tenant. She was Everett Ortner’s caretaker and she will be moving out before the house is sold. Consequently, the house will be delivered vacant.

  • I knew the Ortner’s & I think I recall that Everett said some of the modifications could be easily reversed – they were done to make life easier as they got older.

  • There is not a rent controlled tenant in the house. The caretaker is the only one living there and, as she will leave before the closing, the house will be delivered vacant.

  • The Ortners were wonderfully responsible for organizing annual Brownstone Revival conferences in the1970s and 80s. So many people in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and elsewhere benefited from knowledgeable experts about how to restore, rehabilitate and enhance their homes in Historic Districts. We remember them fondly.

  • That crown molding on the parlor floor is awful. I’d rip that right out.

  • ….good thing for the preservationists, I can’t afford it.

    • Yes, it is a good thing but, if you want to make some sort of architectural “statement” why would you even consider destroying something like this instead of doing whatever it is you do in a house that was already stripped of detail?

  • Can’t be a rent controlled tenant, since there are less than 6 units – has to be free market, fwiw.

    • Wrong! Rent stabilization applies to buildings with 5 or more units. Rent controlled units can exist in smaller buildings were someone has been in residence since before 1974.

    • you are incorrect and are doing a disservice by repeating this ridiculous assertion that I have read on this blog several times. Do brokers say this to people to trick them?
      The Ortners bought the house with several tenants. The last one passed away several years ago, I recall that Mr. Ortner told me that neither he nor his wife had ever really been in that space before the tenant died.

  • I’ve been in here, too, on the parlor floor, and the floor above. I never had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Ortner, but I had several wonderful conversations with Mr. Ortner a year or so before he died. I even got to have Chinese food with him once, with his caretaker, who was very nice to him, and Morgan Munsey and his Mom. Morgan introduced me to Mr. O.

    He was still sharp as a tack at that time, and grilled me for over an hour about what I did for a living, preservation in Crown Heights and Bed Stuy, and a host of other topics, including classical music. He also imparted a lot of great information, told some very interesting stories and engaged in not a little chest thumping, which he was certainly entitled to.

    And the house?? Ok, it’s not 100% original, and they moved stuff around, especially as they got older and less able to climb stairs easily. But they held court in a wonderful Victorian space, the likes of which will disappear with a new owner. They had some wonderful furniture pieces, and great taste. The house, and its owners were well suited.

    I hope the new owners respect the tremendous history, both Victorian and 20th century, in this house. Keep that Lincrusta in the hall, PLEASE. The likes of which, the house and the Ortner’s, won’t be seen again. They were quite special.

  • I read somewhere that the Ortners would specially target young upper westsiders who were about to start families. Mr. O. was formerly in publishing (McGraw Hill perhaps?) and recruited many publishing types as well as teachers, social workers and other middle-class professionals now considered beneath the pale by Brooklyn ‘s hiptocracy.

  • Mr. Ortner was one of my closest friends and taught me a lot… He told me to go do to Bedford Stuyvesant what he did to Park Slope. He would often have me and my mother over and tell jokes about the neighborhood being too uppity these days. He was say ” I created a monster: This house is very special to me and should go over asking. Photos of this house was also featured in the new release of Bricks in Brownstones .

  • I suppose they worked as a pair, but the real charm and class of the act was Evelyn. I’m sorry you never got a chance to meet her Montrose because she was a fascinating person. She perfectly countered Everett’s kind of ornery manner. I loved her. She invented Park Slope as we know it. Her passing was a shock. She was youthful and vital to the end. That’s a real blessing isn’t it?

  • Went to the open house. It was not mobbed at all. There were a handful of people there, old-house lovers all judging by the conversation. Some of them knew the Ortners. House has been altered quite a bit, none of the bathrooms are original, but everything looked to be in wonderful condition. There’s going to be an estate sale, and the grand light fixtures, such as the opalescent swirl shade gas fixture in the entry hall, will be sold separately and are not going with the house. The ’60s-era kitchen on the parlor floor is very cute, with patterned tile, metal cupboards, and what looked like soapstone counters. Their basement was the neatest and most nicely organized I have ever seen. There was also an impressively cataloged collection of photographs (presumably their own).

  • There is also a lot of impressive wedding cake plaster decoration on the parlor floor.

  • I had the honor and privilege of renting a studio from Everett the past 2 1/2 years. Sadly, I was never able to meet Evelyn, but from what I gather she was equally amazing. I’m exceptionally lucky to have had the opportunity to live in a piece of Park Slope history, and I only hope the new owners will put as much care and love into 272 Berkeley as the Ortners did.

  • I visited the Ortners and was amazed seeing something I had never before witnessed: a 19th century house in largely original condition. I have seen many lovingly restored houses, but this one is unique in that it is something out of 1886 and looks new!