Parachute Jump, SSpellen 3

Montrose is taking a much needed vacation this week. We hope you enjoy some of these older posts, beginning with an icon of summers past.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Parachute Jump
Address: Boardwalk at 16th Street
Cross Streets: In between Surf Avenue, Riegelmann Boardwalk, and 16th and 17th streets
Neighborhood: Coney Island
Year Built: 1939
Architectural Style: N/A
Architect: Invented by Commander James E. Strong, Architects for placement at CI – Michael Mario, Edwin W. Kleinert : Engineered by Elwyn E. Seelye & Co.
Landmarked: Yes, Individually landmarked in 1989

The story: When I first started collecting books about Brooklyn, it used to annoy me no end that much of my reading and research seemed to take the position that you got off the Brooklyn Bridge and there was the Coney Island of the Past. There seemed to be the implication that aside from the bridge, Coney Island and the Dodgers, there really wasn’t all that much else to write about. I had to go to Coney Island a couple of times, and really get into the history, as well as present day state of the place, to grow to appreciate the meeting of real estate, history, society and nostalgia that is Coney Island. And you can’t go there without seeing the Parachute Jump towering over the boardwalk. (more…)

984 Bushwick Ave, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Freestanding house
Address: 984 Bushwick Avenue
Cross Streets: Grove Street and Greene Avenue
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Year Built: Unknown
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed Bushwick Historic District

The story: Bushwick Avenue began being developed in the 1850s. Formerly farmland, mostly owned by Dutch farmers, Bushwick saw its first significant residential development coinciding with the large numbers of German immigrants who came here, beginning in 1848. They were fleeing the political upheavals tearing the country up as the city-states of Germany, Austria and Hungary tried to sort themselves out. The industrial center of Bushwick Avenue was north of Myrtle, and on the southern side, individuals and developers began building homes and churches. (more…)

100 Clermont Ave, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Public School 46, the Edward C. Blum School
Address: 100 Clermont Avenue
Cross Streets: Myrtle and Park Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1957-59
Architectural Style: Modern
Architect: Katz, Waisman, Blumenkranz, Stein, Weber Architects
Other Buildings by Architect: Coney Island Hospital, Wm Grady HS, Brooklyn; Castle Hill Houses, Bronx; “New Building” for Bellevue Hospital, among others
Landmarked: No

The story: After World War II, the Board of Education of the City of New York was as eager as anyone else to build new cutting edge buildings for this growing city. Under the leadership of Erik Kebbon, who was superintendent of school building from 1938-1952, and his successor, Michael Radoslovich, who had the position until 1969, the New York City School system ventured into the age of Modernism in its school, auditorium and athletic facility buildings. Many of the buildings built during this time were designed in-house, but especially under Radoslovich, outside architectural firms were encouraged to reinvent the modern public school. The days of Collegiate Gothic and Colonial Revival style schools were over. (more…)

1590 Bedford Ave, Google Maps

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Simons Motor Sales Co.
Address: 1590 Bedford Avenue
Cross Streets: Union and President Streets
Neighborhood: Crown Heights South
Year Built: 1926
Architectural Style: Vaguely Colonial Revival with Medieval details
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, although an Automobile Row historic district would be great.

The story: It must have been quite exciting to have been around at the dawn of the automobile age. Like today’s personal computer and cell phone age, as soon as a couple of pioneers established the basics of the product, dozens of other people immediately saw ways to improve it, and came up with their own makes and models. Today, there are only a few American car companies still in existence, but back in the first half of the 20th century, there were dozens.

Most are unfamiliar, except to auto aficionados, but some names that are still familiar, like Ford, Chrysler and Dodge, belonged to real people back then – automobile manufacturers who were trying to get their cars produced and distributed across the country. Not everyone can invent, but some people are born salesmen, and these men helped make the automobile industry grow. Guy O. Simons was one of the great automobile salesmen, and this building was at the heart of his empire. (more…)

297 Dean Street, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Colony House Settlement, now Colony South Brooklyn Houses, Inc.
Address: 297 Dean Street
Cross Streets: Nevins Street and 3rd Avenue
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Year Built: 1928-1929
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: The settlement movement in New York City began in the late 19th century in the slums and immigrant communities of the Lower East Side. Settlement houses, like the Henry Street Settlement, founded in 1893, had a leadership role in social reform in the city. They were private charitable houses established to aid primarily women and children with such basics as food and shelter, and later acted as community centers where children were organized for play activities and when they got older, job training.

By middle of the first decade of the 20th century, there were settlement houses all over the city, including several in Brooklyn. Their mission was to work with the poor, and most of their activities revolved around the immigrant communities they were located in. They were non-sectarian, and had the support of Christian and Jewish leaders.

The Colony House Settlement was founded in 1916 by members of the Brooklyn Chapter of New England Women, an upper-class women’s club. Mrs. John Lansing Swan was the founder of Colony House, along with other prominent club members. They rented four rooms at 555 Atlantic Avenue with the idea that they would be helping factory girls by providing a refuge for them. (more…)

122-134 Brooklyn Ave, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Semi-detached row houses, with garages
Address: 122-134 Brooklyn Avenue
Cross Streets: Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1918
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Architect: Eric O. Holmgren
Other Buildings by Architect: Evening Star Baptist Church (former LDS Chapel), Gates Ave, Bedford Stuyvesant; 189 Ocean Avenue, PLG; theaters in Williamsburg; Alku Toinen Cooperative Apartments, Sunset Park.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Phase I of Crown Heights North HD. (2007) both landmarked CHN historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places (2013)

The story: These are among the last single family houses built in Phase I of the Crown Heights North historic district. They were built right at America’s entrance into World War I, a watershed moment in the country’s national psyche. By the time the war was over, New York City had lived through not only war, but also an influenza pandemic, the worst subway disaster in the city’s history, and the rise of a growing middle class, dancing its way to the Roaring Twenties. Much of that middle class was settling in Brooklyn.

This particular row of houses consists of two pairs of semi-detached houses, and a single house at the end of the row, this one in the middle of the block between Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue. They were designed for developer Harry Hanson by Eric O. Holmgren, a Swedish-American architect who enjoyed a long career here in Brooklyn. (more…)

68 Macon St. CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Semi-detached private house
Address: 68 Macon Street
Cross Streets: Nostrand and Verona Place
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1886
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival/Queen Anne
Architect: Montrose W. Morris
Other Buildings by Architect: Alhambra, Renaissance, Clinton Apartments, Kelley mansion, plus row houses on Hancock Street and Jefferson Avenue, all Bed Stuy. Also Imperial, Bedfordshire Apts and rowhouses in Crown Heights, plus buildings in Clinton Hill, Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights
Landmarked: No, but calendared to be landmarked as the Bedford Historic District. (2012) Waiting for vote by LPC and City Council. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

The story: Everyone who loves houses has “their” house. The ones you walk or drive by every day, the ones you wonder what they look like inside, and the ones you can picture yourself in. Everyone has those houses, and for many years, this was mine. I used to walk past this house just about every day for 17 years. Over those years, I saw the house go from a rooming house with shady tenants, to an empty building, to the home of the current owner. All during that time, I would walk past, look at it longingly, touch the brick wall, and send a prayer skyward: “Mine.” Well, the universe didn’t think so, but no matter, it’s still a special piece of property, and one of my favorite houses in Bedford Stuyvesant. (more…)

233-237 Butler St. ASPCA, Rogers Memorial, Jim Henderson, Wikipedia 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Rogers Memorial Building for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), now Retrofret Vintage Guitars, and musical instruments repair shops
Address: 233-237 Butler Street
Cross Streets: Nevins and Bond Streets
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: 1913
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Renwick, Aspinwall & Tucker
Other Buildings by Architect: American Express Building at 65 Bway, Grace Church Neighborhood House, 4th Ave, Provident Loan Building, 25th St., all Manhattan.
Landmarked: No

The story: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in Manhattan in 1866. It was established by Henry Bergh, and is the oldest animal protection society in the Western Hemisphere. Bergh believed that animals were entitled to respectful and kind treatment at the hands of people, and had to be protected under the law from those who acted differently. His initial efforts were in protecting horses from abuse, as well as trying to reform slaughterhouses and stop cock fighting. His cause was soon taken up by many. Only nine days after officially announcing his organization, Bergh was able to get the first anti-cruelty laws passed by the City.

The laws enabled the ASPCA to enforce those anti-cruelty laws, and with only a staff of three, the organization set out to do so, concentrating at first on those who abused horses and livestock. In 1867, they had special ambulance wagons for aiding and rescuing horses on the city streets, and also for rescuing cats, dogs and pigeons. By the time Henry Bergh died in 1888, 37 of the 38 states in the Union had ASPCA chapters and anti-cruelty laws on the books. (more…)

448-450 48th St. SP, NS, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Wood-framed row houses
Address: 448-450 48th Street
Cross Streets: 4th and 5th avenues
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: 1890
Architectural Style: Originally Queen Anne
Architect: George Walkinshaw
Landmarked: No, but Sunset Park is on the National Register of Historic Places (1988). Landmarking is needed

The story: The earliest houses still standing in Sunset Park are no older than the early 1880s. This neighborhood was one of the last of Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods to be developed. There’s only one or two of them left, tucked in the brownstone and limestone rows. In the 1890s, builders began putting up the first of the row house groups, and along with those brownstones were also built some rows of attached wood-framed houses. Today, we tend to associate wood-framed houses with earlier times, but many of them were built at the same time as the masonry homes. Wood was just another choice for building materials.

This pair of wooden houses was built in 1890, right at the beginning of serious development here, and represented another choice for buyers, and an opportunity for some interesting design. Unfortunately, that design is now gone. It wasn’t destroyed in the 1950s, or 1970s, but only a couple of years ago, twenty years after the bulk of the neighborhood had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. (more…)

2115 Benson Ave, CongSonsofIsrael, KL, PS, 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Congregation Sons of Israel
Address: 2115 Benson Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner 21st Avenue
Neighborhood: Bensonhurst
Year Built: 1918
Architectural Style: Neo-Classical
Architect: Emery Roth
Other Buildings by Architect: In Manhattan-El Dorado, Beresford, San Remo, Ardsley and Normandy Apartment buildings, among many others. In Brooklyn-1930s tower wing of St. George Hotel
Landmarked: No

The story: Bath Beach’s Congregation Sons of Israel was founded in 1896, by 60 Orthodox Jewish families who had settled in southern Brooklyn to build a community and family. They first met in rented spaces for services, and sometimes at members’ homes. Funds were immediately raised for their own worship space, and a year later, the cornerstone of a new synagogue was laid. The first Congregation Sons of Israel was located at Bay 22nd Street, near 86th and Benson Avenues. Even though the building was not totally completed, they had a roof over their head and enough done to welcome in the Jewish New Year with Rosh Hashanah services in 1898. (more…)

1160 Bushwick Avenue,CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Rectory for Bethesda Baptist Church, originally United Bushwick Avenue Congregational Church
Address: 1160 Bushwick Avenue
Cross Streets: Cornelia Street and Putnam Avenue
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Year Built: 1894-1896
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Fowler & Hough
Other Buildings by Architect: United Bushwick Avenue Congregational Church, next door; 23rd Regiment Armory (Bedford & Atlantic Aves); Dudley Memorial Building, Amity Street, Cobble Hill, and other buildings in New York City
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed Bushwick Avenue Historic District

The story: This is a fine looking house attached to an equally impressive church. It was originally the parsonage for the United Bushwick Avenue Congregational Church, also designed by Fowler & Hough, between 1894 and 1896. That building is a former BOTD. The church and rectory were built on land donated by wealthy landowner Adrian M. Suydam, who was a devoted member of the congregation founded in 1887. He had also given the money to build the chapel that was in this location before they tore it down to build the church. The congregation’s building committee hired the firm of Fowler & Hough to design this mighty fortress of a church. They picked the right firm for designing fortresses. (more…)

198-204 Jefferson Avenue, CB, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 198-204 Jefferson Avenue
Cross Streets: Nostrand and Marcy Avenues
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1891
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Montrose W. Morris
Other Buildings by Architect: Clinton, Alhambra, Renaissance Apartments in Bed Stuy, Imperial and Bedfordshire Apts in Crown Heights. Also in Bed Stuy – Kelley Mansion and many other houses on Hancock, between Marcy and Tompkins Avenues. Also houses and apartments in Clinton Hill, Crown Heights North and South, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg.
Landmarked: Not yet. Calendared for landmarking in 2012.

The story: By 1891, when this group of four houses was built, Montrose W. Morris was one busy man. He had completed his magnificent Alhambra Apartments, just down the street, on Nostrand Avenue, and was in planning for the Renaissance, Imperial and Bedfordshire Apartments which would begin in 1892. He had also just completed the Hulbert and Arbuckle mansions in Park Slope and Clinton Hill, respectively, and only a few years before had designed the Kelley mansion around the corner on Hancock Street, effectively establishing his reputation as one of the go-to architects for Brooklyn’s wealthy.

He also was working on some speculative row house work on Hancock Street and on DeKalb Avenue in Clinton Hill. Those projects were very different from this group of four houses, designed for Arthur C. Mason. At first glance, these houses are nothing like his other works, and far less impressive, but they still have the Montrose Morris touch, and were home to his favorite kind of people: wealthy and prominent folk. (more…)