240-244 8th St. Higgins Ink, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Higgins Ink Building
Address: 240-244 8th Street
Cross Streets: 4th and 5th avenues
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1898
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Stone Brothers
Other Buildings by Architect: Factory and warehouse buildings in Dumbo and elsewhere
Landmarked: No

The story: The Charles M. Higgins Company, manufacturer of Higgins India Ink, was founded in 1880 by an Irish immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1860, eager to make his mark in his new country. Charles Higgins was a naturally curious and inventive man. In 1875, he patented a screw pegging machine, which led to a job at the Scientific News as a patent solicitor – a salesman who finds marketable inventions worthy of a patent. Higgins Ink company lore has it that Charles was fooling around with different ink formulas in his sister’s kitchen in New York, when he invented Higgins India Ink and Eternal Black Ink. He founded his company in 1880, and the rest is history. Higgins ink became the universal ink used around the world. (more…)

184 Kent Ave, Austin Nichols, Dmadeo for Wiki 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Austin, Nichols & Co. Building
Address: 184 Kent Avenue
Cross Streets: North 3rd and North 4th streets
Neighborhood: Williamsburg
Year Built: 1915
Architectural Style: Egyptian Revival
Architect: Cass Gilbert
Other Buildings by Architect: Brooklyn Army Terminal, Bay Ridge. In Manhattan- Woolworth Building, U.S. Customs House, West Street Building. Also U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington DC
Landmarked: Yes, then no. Listed on National Register of Historic Places (2007)

The story: By the first decade of the 20th century, the Austin, Nichols Company was the largest wholesale grocery business in the world. They not only wholesaled food items to retailers, institutions and other buyers, they also packaged and manufactured products, including fine foods, coffee and imported specialty items. Austin, Nichols & Company was founded in 1879, by James E. Nichols and five former associates of Fitts & Austin, a Manhattan wholesale grocery business which was founded by Fred Fitts in 1855. In the very late 19th century, the company’s headquarters was in Tribeca, which was the wholesale food district in Manhattan at that time. (more…)

18 Sidney Pl, SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally private home, boarding house, girls’ residence, then Brooklyn Law School residence, now private apartments
Address: 18 Sidney Place
Cross Streets: State and Joralemon Streets
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1838, with three story addition added in 1873
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Heights HD (1965)

The story:
This house was built in 1838, when Brooklyn Heights was growing by leaps and bounds, as merchant princes made their fortunes below them on the docks of Brooklyn’s piers. This simple Greek Revival house, the prevailing architectural style of the day, was a four story single family home, tucked away on Sidney Place, isolated on this one block street from the hustle and bustle of busy Brooklyn life. The street was named in the early 1830s by a Brooklyn attorney named George Wood, for Sir Philip Sidney, a 16th century British statesman and author. (more…)

192-194 Bergen St. Scott Bintner, PS, 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former factory, then St. Cyprian’s Protestant Episcopal Church, then Sacred Heart Chapel, now private home.
Address: 192-194 Bergen Street
Cross Streets: Corner Bond Street
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Year Built: 1920s
Architectural Style: Simple 19th-early 20th century brick factory
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes, part of Boerum Hill Historic District (1973)

The story: Boerum Hill is one of Brooklyn’s older neighborhoods, with much of its residential housing stock built just before and just after the Civil War. The two houses next door to this building were built in 1860, as were the two similar houses that once stood on this double lot. Sometime in the 1920s, the houses at 192 and 194 Bergen Street were torn down, and this plain, small factory building was constructed. Whatever this factory produced is lost to history, I could find no record of its products or ownership. (more…)

937 Fulton Street,SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Rubel Coal and Ice Corporation, now drug rehab clinic.
Address: 937 Fulton Street
Cross Streets: Corner Waverley Avenue
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1928
Architectural Style: Neo-classical
Architect: Edward M. Adelsohn
Other Buildings by Architect: Jewish Orphan Asylum, New Hebrew School–Brownsville (both gone), Temple Petach Tikvah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn Hygeia Ice Plant, Brooklyn Hebrew Maternity Hospital, row houses, commercial buildings, stores in Brownsville, Crown Heights and other areas of Brooklyn and Queens.
Landmarked: No

The story: In 1907, Samuel Rubel could be found hauling his pushcart through the streets of Brownsville selling ice. He later began carrying coal, in season, as well. He was a fixture in this new Jewish immigrant community, and he managed to make a living for his family, one cartful of these lifesaving elements at a time. Twenty-some years later, he was the owner of Brooklyn’s largest coal and ice business. His company had assets of over $40 million, with 134 coal and ice branches across every borough except Staten Island. He had a staff of over 400 people, and the coal and ice was delivered in 800 Rubel trucks. In 1927, he decided it was time to build a new headquarters in a more central part of Brooklyn. (more…)

495-513 Classon Avenue, CB, PS 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Church of the Nativity of Our Blessed Lord, now Elim Gospel Tabernacle
Address: 495-513 Classon Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Madison Street and Putnam Avenue
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1915
Architectural Style: Romanesque
Architect: Raymond Almirall
Other Buildings by Architect: St. Michael’s Church, Sunset Park, Pacific St. Branch, Brooklyn Public Library, Public Bath #7 (Lyceum), Chapel at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, Emigrant Savings Bank Building, Lower Manhattan, hospitals, churches, in NYC.
Landmarked: No

The story: Raymond Almirall was a fine architect and a good son of Brooklyn. Over the course of his career, he designed many churches, hospitals, libraries and buildings for the Catholic Church and for the city he loved. Although most people may not know his name, his buildings are well known by Brooklynites, as they are a prominent part of our city landscape.

Almirall graduated from Brooklyn’s Polytechnic Institute, and then went on to get a degree in architecture from Cornell University. From there, he went on to study at the prestigious L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. When he came back from Europe, he went to work with architect John V. Ingle, and Almirall’s first professional project was the City Hall for Binghamton, NY. After that project, he put out his shingle and began designing on his own. (more…)

315 Washington Ave, SW, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Free-standing brick house
Address: 315 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: late 1860s, new mansard roof added 1894
Architectural Style: now
Architect: Building architect unknown, Roof extension by Parfitt Brothers
Other Buildings by Architect: Parfitt Brothers – in Clinton Hill – 331-335 Wash, just down the block, Cornelius Hoagland House, Clinton Ave and several other row houses and flats buildings. Also row houses, apartment buildings, flats buildings, mansions, office buildings and churches in Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill Historic District (1981)

The story: I would have loved to have seen Clinton Hill just after the Civil War. The neighborhood was already popular with wealthy Brooklynites who enjoyed living on “the Hill,” where the air was clean and two main streets, Clinton and Washington Avenues, were lined with spacious homes on large lots. Many of those homes at that time were large wood framed suburban villas. Today, in the entire neighborhood, there are only a couple left. These wealthy folk were also beginning to build more substantial homes of brick and brownstone, and both Washington and Clinton are dotted with large boxy masonry houses dating from the late 1860s. They add a wonderful gravitas and simple elegance to the neighborhood, and are typical of Victorian style. This house is one of them. (more…)

451 Clarkson Ave, KCH, ABC unit, Google Maps 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Nurses Training School, now ABC Building at Kings County Hospital
Address: 451 Clarkson Avenue
Cross Streets: New York and Albany Avenues
Neighborhood: Wingate/East Flatbush
Year Built: 1930-32
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival with strong Art Deco influences
Architect: Leroy P. Ward
Other Buildings by Architect: mostly mansions on Gold Coast of Long Island and Hamptons
Landmarked: No

The story: Kings County Hospital started out as the Kings County Almshouse in 1831. Located at the time, far out on a farm, far away from everyone else, the almshouse was a Dickensian work house and farm for the poor and indigent on 70 acres of Flatbush farming land, with 40 acres dedicated to farmland. As the 19th century progressed, the dormitories and work houses of the Almshouse were joined by the Lunatic Asylum, a place where those with developmental problems, mental illness and other disabilities such as blindness could also be removed from society. Both institutions were early forms of public care, supported not by private charities, but public tax funds. As can be imagined, life here was pretty awful, too. (more…)

1083-1089 Prospect Place, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Double duplex row houses
Address: 1083-1089 Prospect Place
Cross Streets: Kingston and Albany Avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1908
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: George Chappell of Chappell & Bosworth
Other Buildings by Architect: Row houses, mansions, churches, flats buildings in Crown Heights North, Bedford, Stuyvesant Heights and Park Slope
Landmarked: Calendared as Crown Heights North HD, Phase III (2011), still waiting for designation

The story: The first decade of the 20th century saw a lot of building going on in our newer brownstone neighborhoods. But developers were finding that their buyers’ needs had changed. Households were changing, many young couples didn’t want, or couldn’t afford an entire house, and the days of live-in servants were coming to an end for all but the very wealthy. The demand for single family houses was no longer as strong as it had been twenty years before. Apartment buildings were finally gaining middle class respectability and desirability. Two family houses, where someone could live and have tenant income, or room for extended family members in their own space, were becoming a very attractive and viable option. And then the architectural firm of Mann & MacNeille came up with the Kinko houses. (more…)

156 Sterling Pl. Ist Church of Christ Scientist, beyondmyken for wiki

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Fourth (then First) Church of Christ Scientist, now part of Berkeley Carroll School
Address: 156 Sterling Place
Cross Streets: 7th and Flatbush avenues
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1936
Architectural Style: Art Deco with Classical details
Architect: A.W. Laurie
Other Buildings by Architect: Christ Scientist Church in Newport, R.I., buildings in Boston area and New York City
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed Second Expansion of the Park Slope Historic District

The story: Brooklyn’s First Church of Christ Scientist was founded in 1886 by Mrs. P.J. Leonard. By the end of the next decade, they were conducting services on Cumberland Street, between DeKalb and Lafayette Street. In October of 1897, they established a church on Lafayette Avenue, near Franklin. That church, architect Montrose Morris’ only church building, still stands.

By 1910, the congregation had grown so quickly that they needed a much larger building. The organization has always appealed to a higher income demographic, so it was only natural that they build a new structure in one of Brooklyn’s best neighborhoods. The new First Church of Christ Scientist was designed by Henry Ives Cobb, and finished in 1914. It is a magnificent structure on the corner of Dean Street and New York Avenue, in the St. Marks District, now Crown Heights North. (more…)

203 St. Marks Ave, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally a garage, now Church of God Victory
Address: 203 St. Marks Avenue
Cross Streets: Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
Year Built: between 1912-1922, with alterations in 1990s
Architectural Style: Originally Romanesque/Renaissance Revival, now vaguely Moorish/Gothic
Architect: Original — unknown, alterations — Strange & Vella, Architects
Other Buildings by Architect: Building projects in Brooklyn and elsewhere
Landmarked: Yes, part of Prospect Heights HD (2009)

The story: Nothing can change faster than a city block these days. One day a building will be there, the next week it’s gone, and you find yourself trying to remember what was there. That certainly must have happened on this block of Prospect Heights. Before this building was here, 203 St. Marks Avenue was the location of a wood framed row house similar to its next door neighbor. In 1898, it was the home of a little 10 year old boy named William Walsh who couldn’t wait to be old enough to join the 14th Regiment. As America lunged into the Spanish American War, he told the Brooklyn Eagle, “Oh, if I were old enough to help to free Cuba, I would give my head and my heart to God and my country. One country and one flag- the Red, White, and Blue!” (more…)

227 Marcy Ave, EDHS, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Eastern District High School, now Bais Ruchel School for Girls
Address: 227 Marcy Avenue
Cross Streets: Rodney and Keap Streets
Neighborhood: East Williamsburg
Year Built: 1907-08
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival/Collegiate Gothic
Architect: C.B.J. Snyder
Other Buildings by Architect: Erasmus Hall High School, John Jay High School, PS 93, 132, 133, 157 and many others in Brooklyn, as well as elementary, middle, and high schools across New York City.
Landmarked: No

The story: In 1894, State Senators in Albany were fighting on the floor of the State House over whether or not to build a high school for the Eastern District of Brooklyn. Williamsburg was growing by leaps and bounds with thousands of new immigrants crowding the newly built tenements in the district, adding to those who were already there. Most of the new families had children, and local elementary schools were overcrowded. Most of them had already moved students to nearby buildings purchased as annexes. The school system couldn’t build fast enough. (more…)