Private Preschool Wants to Alter Landmarked Facade of Cobble Hill Theater

292 court street cobble hill

A private Montessori school group is presenting its plans next week to alter the facade of a landmarked former movie theater at 292 Court Street in Cobble Hill. The school needs LPC approval to change the facade and “to install storefront infill, two barrier-free access ramps, a flag, a canopy, and an elevator bulkhead, “according to the LPC agendaCalifornia-based LePort Schools signed a lease in April for the 15,700-square-foot building, which includes an additional 6,000 square feet of rooftop and back terrace space, as we reported at the time.

The school plans to open a preschool and kindergarten program in the space by September 2015, according to its website. The theater first opened in 1924 as the 600-seat Paras Court Theater, according to the Brooklyn Theatre Index. The three-story building featured a movie theater on the first floor and a dance hall and billiard room on the second, until the theater closed in 1959. The building was previously used as a daycare center, according to Yelp, and the facade appears to have been altered in the early ’60s.

Update: The manager of LePort’s Brooklyn programs tells us that the metal grating above the storefront will be removed and the masonry behind it restored. All the glass on the storefront and windows will be replaced, and the A/C units will be removed. They’re also hoping to “install a functional glass canopy over the storefront as an homage to the former cinema’s marquee.” All the metal finishes will be in bronze. The school will also install an ADA-compliant ramp, as required by the building code. 

Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

11 Comment

  • Why not let them do it?

    • Because landmarked is supposed to mean something. When you start allowing exceptions to rules like this you create a very gray area. What if a brownstone owner in a landmarked area wants to demo their front stoop to accomodate a ramp? What if another building owner wants to redo their facade and after the plans are approved they change their mind deciding it’s too expensive after they’ve done the demo work?

      Do you just fine people for destroying history? The owners in these areas wanted this landmark zone specifically because the preservation adds value. Chipping away at bits and pieces is exactly what it is supposed to prevent no matter how well intentioned the ideas are.

  • This building isn’t that gorgeous and its been sitting empty forever. Let them change it and make it into something good.

  • Landmarks will most likely will let them do it- doesn’t mean they don’t have to file. Sure whatever they do will be nicer anyway. As long as it is contextual it should sail through and be approved. And ADA trumps Landmarks everyday.

  • Landmarks will let them be ADA compliant. They just won’t let them be sloppy or cheap about it. It is possible to be within approved guidelines of both the LPC and the ADA, in buildings that are much older and much harder to alter. It happens in historic buildings across the city all the time.

  • This building has already been badly defaced with that horrible metal front. I’m sure that the plans for the school will only improve it; it certainly can’t get any worse. I live in the area and have always hoped that someone would come along and renovate this nice old theater building. I’m sure that they will approve it.

  • @UnRed
    The building has not been “vacant forever.” The former pre-school vacated several months ago and the new school has been sitting on it for a while.

    As others have said, Landmarks will allow the ADA access and the occupant will hopefully improve the bastardized facade.

  • I’ve just updated the post with some comments from LePort, who told us more about what they’re doing with the facade.

    • Thanks for the update. Sounds like they are doing the right thing, and that it will look much better, and closer to it’s original state. Having a big glass canopy will be great for parents and kids waiting outside the school in the rain.

  • The reality of the political situation is that the current administration doesn’t think much of landmarks and isn’t likely to enforce laws that they don’t agree with.

    Only hope for Landmarks under this administration is that the mayor had some conversion experience on his visit to Italy and realized that there is real cultural, human, and political value in communities holding on to those things and history that make up the essences of a community. Doesn’t Carroll Gardens deserves to hold on to it’s history just as much as any town in Italy?