Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row houses
Address: 409-417 Grand Avenue
Cross Streets: Gates and Putnam Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1909
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Architect: John J. Petit of Kirby, Petit & Greene
Other work by architect: Houses in Prospect Park South and other Victorian Flatbush neighborhoods, commissioned homes in Park Slope, Stuyvesant Heights. Also designed Dreamland Amusement Park in Coney Island for William Reynolds
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill HD (1981)
The story: It’s quite unexpected to come upon this group of three Colonial Revival houses on a block and neighborhood famous for its 1870s and 1880s era brownstones. Although they are a group, and share similar entryways, they are also quite different, lending one to believe that unlike most of the speculative housing in this neighborhood, these were built for three specific individuals. That would be correct. It figures, too, as the architect for this project was a man used to designing the eclectic and the different for his clients.
All three houses were built in 1909, long after the brownstones around them. They replaced other homes that stood there before. No. 409 was designed for Charles Pray, a textile broker, and one of the founders of the Huntington Country Club. They lived here for about 20 years. His house features blind round arched fanlights with laurel wreaths and splayed lintels. All three houses have their original ground floor entrances, entered by a short set of stairs.
No. 411 was built for Frederick De Mund MacKay and family. He was the most prominent of the trio. MacKay was from an old Brooklyn family, and was born in the family home on MacKay Place, in what is now Bay Ridge. He attended Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, and then went to work for the E. W. Bliss Company, a well-known munitions and machinery factory. He worked his way up to Vice President, a position he held for over twenty years. MacKay was also on the boards of several banks, charities and a member of all the right clubs. Considered one of the best-known horsemen in the city, he was also a director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (more…)