Brooklyn’s wooden houses are becoming more popular — and going up in price — among would-be buyers priced out of the brownstone market, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. Buyers are pushing into formerly fringe areas such as South Slope, Greenpoint and Gowanus, where they find mostly wood houses, in the $1,000,000 to $1,700,000 range, a full $1,000,000 less than they would pay for a brownstone in Park Slope proper, according to the story. Wood houses tended to be built more often for the working class, although not always, and were outlawed in some areas of Brooklyn starting in the mid-19th century because of fire concerns.
“They are plainer than their brownstone counterparts, with wide-plank floors instead of inlaid wood, for example,” said the WSJ. Our own late 19th century wooden house, now covered in vinyl siding, once looked like a painted lady outside and is bursting with gingerbread inside. OTOH, it was always a two-family and its mantels and wood are the less expensive variety. Instead of the elaborate oak and mahogany wood work you will find in houses built for the wealthy in Park Slope and the western areas of Bed Stuy, it was gaily painted inside with polychrome and gilding on the picture frame molding, faux oak grain woodwork in the dining room, and faux marble painted slate fireplaces throughout.
“There’s a whole new piece of New York City that’s getting uncovered,” said the Wooden House Project’s Elizabeth Finkelstein in the story. Above, the well-known Berlenbach House at 174 Meserole Street in East Williamsburg, designed and built by the Berlenbach family in 1887. Do you have a strong preference one way or the other for a wood house or a brownstone? What about brick?