PP Picnic House, Bridge And Tunnel Club, 2

This story concludes our weeklong look at Brooklyn’s greatest treasure, Prospect Park.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Prospect Park Picnic House
Address: 95 Prospect Park West
Cross Streets: Behind Litchfield Villa at 5th Street and Prospect Park West
Neighborhood: Closest to Park Slope
Year Built: 1927
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Architect: J. Sarsfield Kennedy
Other Work by Architect: The “Gingerbread House” in Bay Ridge; houses in Prospect Park South, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and elsewhere
Landmarked: Yes, in 1975. Also on the National Register of Historic Places

The story: The grass had hardly begun to grow in the new Prospect Park before eager picnickers swarmed the Long Meadow and other areas, ready to enjoy the outdoor spaces. The year was 1868, and the park wasn’t even done yet.

The city had already received seven requests for permits from groups of over 100 who wanted to have picnics. In response, a picnic shelter and concession stand was built in 1876.

The popularity of the park grew steadily, and as time went by, more shelters, restaurants and other buildings were added inside the park, all designed to make the park experience easier for patrons and to add to the park’s ambiance. Some of the buildings were quite charming, some quite unusual, and some just silly. (more…)

96 Parkside Ave, Peristyle, SSpellen 1

We continue this week’s look at Brooklyn’s natural treasure: Prospect Park. Summer is coming!

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Prospect Park Peristyle, aka Grecian Shelter, aka Croquet Shelter
Address: 96 Parkside Avenue
Cross Streets: Park Circle and Ocean Avenue
Neighborhood: Flatbush
Year Built: 1905
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: McKim, Mead & White
Other Works by Architect: In Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum, Grand Army Plaza park entrance, and other entrances and structures within Prospect Park (Stanford White)
Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (1968)

The story: Who doesn’t love this Classical Greek inspired structure? For many people, Prospect Park begins and ends on the Park Slope side, but other parts of the park have some of the best goodies, some hidden, and some, like this shelter, in plain view.

And to learn that it was designed by one of the finest architectural firms in the history of American architecture is just icing on the cake. As summer rapidly is upon us, let’s take a look at this wonderful folly on the Flatbush side of the park. (more…)

Meadowport Arch, Wally Gobetz on flickr 1

This week, in anticipation of summer, we are revisiting articles about the greatest masterpiece in Brooklyn: Prospect Park.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Meadowport Arch
Address: Prospect Park
Cross Streets: Roughly between Union and Carroll streets
Neighborhood: Closest to Park Slope
Year Built: 1868-1870
Architectural Style: Victorian Orientalist
Architect: Calvert Vaux with Frederick Olmsted
Other Buildings by Architect: Olmsted and Vaux designed all of the picturesque arches and bridges within the park
Landmarked: Yes (1975), also National Register of Historic Places

The story: All of the arches in Prospect Park are great for different reasons, but nothing beats the sensory experience of coming out of the Meadowport Arch and seeing the Long Meadow stretching into the distance. Only the Endale Arch, a close second, compares in this regard. For both, as Francis Morrone says in his Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn, “WHAM!”

Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted were able to create this powerful experience through just the use of a tunnel and double entrance, artfully placed in front of a huge meadow. That, in a nutshell, is the mark of genius.

While the experience of walking through the tunnel is certainly quite something, especially for us greenery-starved New Yorkers; the arch itself ain’t bad either. It’s actually quite complex. (more…)

1406-1422 Carroll St. NS, 1418 PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 1406-1422 Carroll Street
Cross Streets: Kingston and Albany Avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights South
Year Built: 1917
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival with Flemish details
Architect: Cantor & Dorfman
Other works by architect: Similar group of houses at 1-14 Martense Court, as well as apartment buildings, row houses, and other projects throughout southern Brooklyn
Landmarked: No

The story: Everyone is familiar with our traditional brownstones, limestones and brick row houses from the 19th century. They are all iconic elements of Brooklyn’s streetscapes. But housing construction did not end at the beginning of the 20th century, as demand continued in all parts of Brooklyn for single- and two-family houses.

Life in Brooklyn was evolving, however. Most of the older row houses were built with a live-in servant class in mind. But the middle-class homeowners in the 20th century did not typically have live-in help. They no longer needed dumbwaiters, butler’s pantries, maid’s rooms or formal double parlors.

Developers reported that their customers wanted smaller houses that had open spaces, more closets and more than one bathroom. They wanted electrical lights, modern appliances, and the greatest perk of the 20th century – off-street parking in their own garage.

Crown Heights is a wonderful microcosm of early 20th century development. Most of Crown Heights North’s row house stock was built in the last decade of the 19th century through the first decade of the 20th. As development moved south, across Eastern Parkway, the styles reflected the changes of the modern world. (more…)

173 Smith St. J. Kurtz, NS, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former J. Kurtz & Sons store, now Wyckoff House Condominium
Address: 169-173 Smith Street
Cross Streets: Corner Wyckoff Street
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill
Year Built: 1901-1902
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Albert Ullrich (often spelled Ulrich)
Other works by architect: Row houses in Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and elsewhere in Brooklyn. Also churches, houses and other buildings in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Dallas.
Landmarked: No

The story: Jacob and Gittle Kurtz came to America in 1867, settling in New York and then Brooklyn. In 1870, they opened a small store at 175 Smith Street, selling furniture, rugs and carpets and other home furnishings. They were extremely successful and over the years expanded into the storefronts of 169, 171 and 173 Smith Street.

The company celebrated its 17th anniversary with a large picnic at Ulmer Park in Bath Beach. By this time, J. Kurtz & Sons had added women’s clothing to their line of goods and expanded to a second store, at 773-781 Broadway in Bushwick. Both stores had annexes as well — the Smith Street location had its annex at 82-90 Wyckoff Street, around the corner.

The Kurtzes’ family expanded alongside their company — they had a daughter and six sons, three of whom would go on to work in the family business.

Then in 1901, disaster struck. (more…)

751 Greene Ave, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former single family mansion
Address: 751 Greene Avenue
Cross Streets: Marcus Garvey Boulevard and Lewis Avenue
Neighborhood: Stuyvesant Heights
Year Built: Around 1884
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: There’s nothing like living large in one’s palatial home, surrounded by no one at all. A man could feel like a feudal lord in the middle of Brooklyn. That’s what it looked like for Isaac C. DeBevoise when he had this house built in the middle of the 1880s.

The DeBevoise family is one of Brooklyn’s oldest. The New World family patriarch was Carel DeBevoise, who came to these shores in the mid-1600s. Family members married into many other old Dutch families, such as the Bergens, Lotts and Lefferts.

Branches of the family settled all over Brooklyn and were involved in all kinds of businesses and industry. One branch made their mark in the Williamsburg/Bushwick area, giving rise to a street named after them.

Isaac DeBevoise was a real estate man. His name appeared often in the Eagle and other Brooklyn papers as a contact for those seeking land to develop, as well in ads for homes and other properties. Most of his listings were in this neighborhood, known at that time as part of the large Eastern District. (more…)

94 Rugby Rd, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Morris L. Holman house
Address: 94 Rugby Road
Cross Streets: Church Avenue and Albemarle Road
Neighborhood: Prospect Park South
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Spanish Mission Revival
Architect: John J. Petit
Other works by architect: Many of the great houses of Prospect Park South. On Rugby Road: 88, 100, 154, 205, 219 and 220; also 1306, 1510 and 1519 Albemarle Road, and 131 Buckingham Road, the “Japanese House.”
Landmarked: Yes, part of Prospect Park South Historic District (1981)

The story: For architect John J. Petit, Prospect Park South was a dream come true. What architect wouldn’t want to work for clients who wanted the best of everything and encouraged their architects to go all out, design-wise?

Petit was the perfect man for the job. He was highly imaginative and very good at using the design themes of other times and cultures in his projects. He didn’t create copies, but used his source material as inspirations for entirely new work.

This skill would come in handy not only for Prospect Park South, but also for Dreamland, the Coney Island amusement park that Petit designed for mega-developer William Reynolds. Like the homes of Prospect Park South, it too was a collection of themes from all over the world, with Moroccan minarets, Venetian palazzi and Japanese tea houses. (more…)

65-67 Middagh Street, PS 8, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Public School 8, now co-op apartments
Address: 65-67 Middagh Street
Cross Streets: Hicks and Henry streets
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1846, with 1860 addition
Architectural Style: Greek Revival with Italianate details
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Heights Historic District (1965)

The story: As the town of Brooklyn grew into a city in the early 19th century, its leaders realized the importance of public education. There have been schools in Brooklyn almost as long as there has been a Brooklyn, but in the beginning they were private and semi-private affairs, with classrooms popping up wherever it was possible to gather. Those places included churches, meeting halls, even back rooms in print shops, groceries and other kinds of stores.

In 1843, the Brooklyn Board of Education was organized. Its mission was to construct dedicated school buildings and, of course, administrate Brooklyn’s system of primary education.

At this point in time, there was no public high school, as teaching children the “three Rs” was considered more than enough to assure a literate workforce and a functioning society. Any child who was being groomed for higher education had to get it from a private institution.

This section of Brooklyn Heights was once part of the holdings of the Hicks family. They were related to the Middagh family by marriage. John Middagh Hicks and his brother Jacob Middagh Hicks once operated the only ferry from Manhattan to Brooklyn. As they sold off their land for Brooklyn Heights’ development, they saw both families honored with street names. (more…)

1094 Park Place, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Freestanding house
Address: 1094 Park Place
Cross Streets: Kingston and Albany avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1901
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Henry B. Moore
Other works by architect: Row of Kinkos houses on Sterling Place, row houses in Clinton Hill and other brownstone neighborhoods, plus 1305 Albemarle Road in Prospect Park South
Landmarked: Yes, as part of Phase III of Crown Heights North Historic District (2015)

The story: This house has been written about here on Brownstoner several times over the years, so it may come as a surprise that it’s never been a Building of the Day.

Our story begins with George V. Brower, who was Parks Commissioner of Brooklyn twice, the first time between 1889 and 1894. In 1892 the city purchased a four-acre plot of land for a new park, called Bedford Park. It was located between Park and Prospect places and Kingston and Brooklyn avenues.

That just happened to be across the street from George Brower’s home, at the corner of Park Place and Kingston Avenue.

Before becoming Parks Commissioner, Brower had been a very successful lawyer. His home had been built when this part of Bedford was still very suburban, with large houses on large lots. The Brower estate was large enough to have been surrounded by trees, and even had a small pond, where the four Brower children ice skated in winter.

But in the 1880s Bedford began developing very quickly, so the new park was soon surrounded by fine upper-middle-class housing. The area also gained a new name: the St. Marks District. (more…)

905-907 Broadway. CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Mixed-use commercial/residential buildings
Address: 905-907 Broadway
Cross Streets: Corner Arion Place
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Year Built: 1884
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Theobald Engelhardt
Other works by architect: Breweries, factories, warehouses, churches, row houses, flats buildings, free-standing mansions throughout Bushwick, eastern Bed Stuy and parts of Williamsburg. Also factories in Crown Heights, Brooklyn Heights
Landmarked: No, but should be

The story: These two mixed-use storefront and apartments building may look like the hundreds of similar buildings across the brownstone communities of Brooklyn, but these are something more. From the second floor of the corner building, No. 905, architect Theobald Engelhardt established his offices. From his work table came the plans for literally hundreds of buildings; buildings that would create neighborhoods.

Mr. Engelhardt appears in this column quite often, and with good reason. The man was prolific, he could design anything, and he was good. Bushwick, Williamsburg and eastern Bedford Stuyvesant would not look the same today if not for his talent.

Theobald Engelhardt was born here in Brooklyn, in Williamsburg, the son of Philip Engelhardt, a German builder and carpenter. The family had come to the United States from Baden, fleeing the German revolution that was taking place in 1848 and ’49. Thousands of Germans from many different city-states came to the U.S. during that period and settled everywhere from New York to Texas.

Young Theo was educated at the local Turn Verein, which his father had built. He went on to Brown’s Business School, and finally to Cooper Union, where he received his architectural certificate. He went back home to work with his father and get a lot of practical experience. (more…)

581 Mother Gaston Blvd, Stone Ave Library, KL, PS 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Stone Avenue Library
Address: 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard
Cross Streets: Corner Dumont Avenue
Neighborhood: Brownsville
Year Built: 1914
Architectural Style: Jacobean Revival
Architect: William B. Tubby
Other works by architect: Three other Carnegie Libraries, as well as fire houses, police stations, factory buildings, row houses, stables and free-standing mansions in Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Heights and other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Best known for his Pratt Institute buildings and his house for Charles M. Pratt at 241 Clinton Avenue and the William Childs house at 53 Prospect Park West
Landmarked: No, but it was recently calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The story: William Tubby was one of Brooklyn’s most talented and well-rounded architects. There wasn’t much he couldn’t do. His houses, whether row houses or mansions, were all spectacular. There isn’t a bad one in the bunch. Even his stables and carriage houses were great. Living in a Tubby house would be a privilege; the man designed thoughtfully and well, using only quality materials.

Private homes are one thing, but his work for the public good was arguably just as good or better. (more…)

1395 Dean St. NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Semi-detached row house
Address: 1395 Dean Street
Cross Streets: Brooklyn and Kingston avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1901
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival
Architect: Wade & Cranford
Other works by architect: Houses in Ditmas Park. Daniel E. Waid – institutional buildings for Long Island Hospital, Monmouth College, Ill.; co-designed Metropolitan Life Insurance Company North Building, Manhattan.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Phase I of Crown Heights North Historic District (2007)

The story: Crown Heights North does not have very many Colonial Revival style buildings. This one has an unusual and surprising history, and came close to meeting the wrecking ball. Fortunately, Crown Heights North doesn’t have a lot of empty lots, either. Here’s the story:

This block is an interesting combination of row houses, stand alone and semi-detached large homes, and small flats buildings. The block includes the oldest house in Crown Heights North as well as apartment buildings from the 1930s.

With only a few exceptions, the row houses were built as speculative housing. This is one of the exceptions. The 1901 Colonial Revival was built on this extra wide double lot as a legal three family house. The original owners wanted to house themselves in splendor and have private spacious apartments for extended family.

You really wouldn’t realize the amount of space looking at the front of the house, but it extends back 80 feet, with an attic above, and has 4,580 square feet of living space. There was room in the back for a garage, although none stands today. (more…)