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…)

2820-2900 Snyder Ave, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: NYPD 67th Precinct, FDNY Engine 248-Battalion 41
Address: 2820-2900 Snyder Avenue
Cross Streets: Nostrand and Rogers avenues
Neighborhood: Flatbush
Year Built: 1971
Architectural Style: Brutalist
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both Brooklyn and New York City accorded their fire and police departments fine buildings. The philosophy was that these vital services reflected on the cities themselves, and should be architectural structures that did those cities proud. When visitors came here, any citizen, whether great or humble, could point to a police station or fire house and say, “This is what our city built for my safety and well-being. Aren’t they beautiful and impressive?”

When Brooklyn became part of Greater NYC, that tradition continued. Some of our finest architects vied for the privilege of designing stations that are today beloved and protected landmarks. These stations were so valued that despite changes in policing or firefighting, many of them were remodeled and are still in use. (more…)

80-84 Livingston St. NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Storefronts/offices with apartments
Address: 80-84 Livingston Street
Cross Streets: Court Street and Boerum Place
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1915
Architectural Style: Vaguely neo-Georgian
Architect: Volckening & Holler
Other Buildings by Architect: Station “D” Post Office, 4th Ave and 13th Street, Manhattan; addition to Bethany Deaconess Hospital, Brooklyn
Landmarked: No

The story: Downtown Brooklyn is filled with all sorts of large and important buildings. Sometimes we overlook the smaller, less architecturally impressive buildings that stand cheek to jowl with the masterpieces or the places where BIG THINGS happened. But often, it is here that the real lives of Brooklynites took place; the small businesses, civic organizations, and the apartments of ordinary people.

As it usually happens, I came upon the architects of these buildings while researching another building. I rarely pass up an opportunity to report on a building with a named architect, so I was hoping there would be a story here. In researching these three buildings, which were built as two stories of offices/stores below two stories of apartments, I found my story for today. (more…)

185 Pacific Street, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Riley & Latimer Trucking, now the Parking Club Garage
Address: 185 Pacific Street
Cross Streets: Court and Clinton Streets
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill
Year Built: 1918-1920
Architectural Style: Basic brick factory-type building
Architect: (Builder: William F. Henry)
Landmarked: Yes, part of Cobble Hill Historic District (1969)

The story: This garage actually made the newspapers. Not because of something sensational, like a murder, a disaster or a famous owner, but because of the bricks that make up the handsome façade, and the building itself. According to the Brooklyn Eagle, this 1920 building was unique because it was constructed in clinker brick.

Many people think clinker brick is named because of the burnt quality of the bricks or that they are mistakes or rejects from regular brick castings. That’s only partially true. The name is actually Dutch/Low German, and refers to the distinctive sound the bricks make when clapped together. They clink. (more…)

245-247 Herkimer St. JMHorton Ice Cream, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally J. M. Horton Ice Cream Company, now part of Restoration Plaza
Address: 245-247 Herkimer Street
Cross Streets: New York and Brooklyn avenues
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1903. Incorporated into Restoration Plaza in 1974-75
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Gillespie & Cassell. Harley M. Jones was the architect of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, of which this building is now a part
Other Buildings by Architect: G&C – No other buildings listed. Harley M. Jones – Gallery for Studio Museum of Harlem
Landmarked: No

The story: Fruits and flavorings mixed with crushed ice have been with us since the ancient Sumerians. Ancient Arab cultures and the Chinese served frozen dishes with a milk base and fruits and flavorings. Sorbets have been served in Europe since 1500s, but ice cream, the frozen dairy product we know today, with a cream base, chilled and churned with an ice and salt mixture, has only been around since the early 1700s. Here in America, ice cream arrived with the Quaker colonists who settled here from England. By midcentury, people such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Ben Franklin were enjoying this frozen treat. Dolly Madison, the wife of President James Madison, served ice cream at her husband’s inaugural ball in 1813. (more…)

321 Ashland Pl, BAMFisher, beyondmyken for Wiki 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Salvation Army Citadel, now BAM Fisher (Richard B. Fisher Building)
Address: 321 Ashland Place
Cross Streets: Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1927-8, New incarnation: 2010-2012
Architectural Style: (Original building) Georgian Revival
Architect: Original building –Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker, New building – H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, Hugh Hardy architect
Other Buildings by Architects: (VH&W)-Manhattan: Salvation Army headquarters and residence, 14th St, Barclay-Vesey Building, Western Union Building, both Tribeca. Brooklyn: Bell Telephone Building, Municipal Building. (Hugh Hardy)- Many theater and cultural facilities, including work on New Amsterdam Theater, Victory Theater, Joyce Theater, Bridgemarket, and other BAM projects
Landmarked: Yes, part of BAM Historic District (1978)

The story: The Salvation Army held its first meeting in America in Philadelphia in 1879, with a chapter in New York City a year later. The organization was founded in England in 1865 by Catherine and William Booth. By 1882, they had also established a chapter in Brooklyn, meeting at the old Lyceum Theater downtown on Washington Street. They met there every Saturday night, and then also began preaching on the steps of City Hall. That was not appreciated by some, and violence often erupted.

In order to maintain some identity and pride, the Army had uniforms made up by a Brooklyn tailor named Schmidt, giving the organization its recognizable look that is still followed today.Eventually, the Salvation Army’s mission of “Soup, Soap, and Salvation” was a familiar and welcomed one, all across Brooklyn, and the organization spread its chapters throughout the borough. Of course, over the years, they had also grown exponentially across the country, and established their national headquarters in Manhattan. (more…)