385 Jay St. S.Spellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former row house
Address: 385 Jay Street
Cross Streets: Willoughby and Fulton Streets
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: probably late 1850s-60s
Architectural Style: probably Italianate with many alterations
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: In 1887, this odd numbered side of Jay Street had a row of six brownstone row houses on it, as can be seen on the map below. They took up all the lots on the block except for the corner lots on Willoughby and Fulton. Like much of downtown Brooklyn at this point, Jay Street was an amalgam of buildings.

The brownstones, which were built when this was a fashionable residential part of town, were slowly disappearing. They were replaced by newer, taller and larger buildings; mostly stores, theaters and banks, or they were altered and used for other purposes.

Unlike today, the Victorians were not in the habit of letting a perfectly good building go to waste. (more…)

649-651 Myrtle Ave, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Wood-framed store buildings with apartments above
Address: 649-651 Myrtle Avenue
Cross Streets: Franklin and Skillman Avenues
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: Before 1872, probably late 1860s
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Although we hold up the Brooklyn brownstone as the building block of our city, in truth, buildings like this built Brooklyn. These were the types of buildings that lined the streets in the 1840s, when Walt Whitman was rhapsodizing about his city.

These simple two story wood-framed buildings, with a store on the ground floor and an apartment above lined our commercial streets until well after the Civil War. The fact that any of them have survived anywhere in this constantly changing city to this date is amazing.

Most of this commercial block probably looked like these two houses when they were built, probably in the 1860s. By the 1880’s the twin wood-frames were surrounded by brick and brownstone buildings. Somehow, they survived, probably because they were constantly in use.

The addresses start to appear in 1872. 649 is listed in a city directory as the location for a grocery store owned by Joseph H. Corliss. He and his family lived upstairs. (more…)

106 Pierrepont St. SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row house
Address: 106 Pierrepont Street
Cross Streets: Henry and Clinton Streets
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1882-83
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: William Baker
Other Buildings by Architect: Row houses, Upper West Side and Harlem, Manhattan
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Heights Historic District (1965)

The story: Like many Brooklyn neighborhoods, houses can come and go by the whim of the real estate gods. Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights has been built up, torn down and built up several times over its history.

104 Pierrepont Street, next door, was built in 1858. No doubt, a similar house once stood here. But in 1882, the Real Estate Record and Builder’s Guide announced that this lot, at the head of Monroe Street, would become the new home of Mr. A. D. Farmer.

The four story (plus basement, or ground floor) home was to be 25×55 feet, on a hundred foot lot. The house was to be designed by William Baker, a Manhattan architect who was around the same time building many fine upper class townhouses on the Upper West Side and in Harlem, on what is now Adam Clayton Powell Blvd, between 117th and 118th Street. (more…)

1095 Prospect Ave, S.Spellen 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Apartment house
Address: 1095 Prospect Place
Cross Streets: Kingston and Albany avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1908
Architectural Style: Arts & Crafts with Tudor Revival details
Architect: Jack Z. Cohen
Other Buildings by Architect: Small projects in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn
Landmarked: Yes, part of new Phase III of Crown Heights North Historic District (2015)

The story: One of the many great things about the architecture of Crown Heights is the diversity of styles and functions. Because the large neighborhood developed from the 1850s through the 1940s, the gamut of residential architecture in Brooklyn is represented somewhere in the neighborhood.

Crown Heights South is very different from Crown Heights North, which is the older part of the neighborhood. Within CHN are many different housing options, but this building is one of a kind, at least within the historic districts.

Crown Heights North has single family row houses, two family row houses, several styles of the “Kinkos” double duplex row houses, and all kinds of flats buildings, tenements and elevator apartment buildings. And this place – an apartment HOUSE. (more…)

1 Pierrepont Plaza, Hillary Clinton Brooklyn campaign headquarters

 

This past week, Hillary Clinton chose 1 Pierrepont Plaza in Brooklyn Heights as her 2016 presidential campaign headquarters.

The choice of Brooklyn as Clinton’s HQ is another marker signaling the change in the borough’s profile and stature. As with the growth of Williamsburg as a capital of youth culture, or the visibility of Barclays Center as the venue for such events as the MTV Video Music Awards and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, this can be seen as another chapter in Brooklyn’s growth into a tier-one city in its own right.

 

(more…)

29 Fort Green Pl. Bklyn Tech,SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Brooklyn Technical High School
Address: 29 Fort Greene Place
Cross Streets: Between DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1930-33
Architectural Style: Collegiate Gothic meets Deco skyscraper
Architect: Walter C. Martin
Other Buildings by Architect: Franklin K. Lane HS, Bklyn; Samuel Gompers Vocational HS, Bronx; Andrew Jackson HS, Jamaica HS, Queens; George Washington HS, Manhattan, and more
Landmarked: No

The story: Architect Walter C. Martin, the Superintendent of Buildings for the New York City Board of Education had his hands full building Brooklyn Tech. The massive school building was constructed during the first three years of the 1930s, when the country was reeling under the effects of the Great Depression.

Thanks to Federal money, the school continued to rise above the brownstone streets of Fort Greene, overlooking Fort Greene Park. Brooklyn Tech was conceived as a specialized school, open to boys only. Part One of this history appears here.

It would offer a curriculum that was heavy in mathematics, science, engineering and related subjects, preparing them for higher education or a good job in the industrial sector.

The school was the brainchild of Dr. Albert Colston, once the head of the Mathematics department at Brooklyn’s Manual Training School in Park Slope. He would become the new school’s first principal. (more…)

29 Fort Green Pl. Bklyn Tech. JimHenderson for Wiki 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Brooklyn Technical High School
Address: 29 Fort Greene Place
Cross Streets: Between DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1930-33
Architectural Style: Collegiate Gothic meets Deco skyscraper
Architect: Walter C. Martin
Other Buildings by Architect: Franklin K. Lane HS, Bklyn; Samuel Gompers Vocational HS, Bronx; Andrew Jackson HS, Jamaica HS, Queens; George Washington HS, Manhattan, and more
Landmarked: No

The story: After World War I, educators began to realize that the world was rapidly changing, with technology becoming more and more important to everyday life, as well as in employment. The technologies made real for war were moving into the marketplace.

It was very similar to today, in that respect.

At the end of the 19th century, educators had introduced “manual training” into the high school curriculum. Girls were directed into the “domestic arts,” but boys were taught skills in carpentry, metalworking, engineering, drafting, building skills and the like, preparing some of them for higher education, and most of them for the job market.

Dr. Albert Colston was the head of the Mathematics Departmment at Brooklyn’s Manual Training School, later called John Jay High School, in Park Slope. He had a vision of a new technical high school that would train boys in the new technologies of the 20th century. (more…)

395 Washington Ave, NS, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Free-standing mansion
Address: 395 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Greene Avenue
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1872
Architectural Style: Second Empire
Architect: Thomas Norris
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill Historic District (1981)

The story: This handsome Second Empire brick mansion has a commanding spot here on the corner of Washington and Greene Avenues. It’s also one of a small number of surviving free-standing homes on this important street in Clinton Hill.

The three story house was built in the early 1870s. A newspaper ad in 1872 mentions this address. It was probably built for the family of Freeborn G. Smith, one of the great characters of 19th century Brooklyn.

Freeborn Smith was a wealthy piano manufacturer. He was born in Baltimore, where he started his career, apprenticed to a piano maker. He quickly learned piano construction, and rose to become a master. Baltimore wasn’t able to help him rise any further, so he came to New York City. (more…)

470 Throop Ave, GS. PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor, now Ebenezer Gospel Tabernacle
Address: 470 Throop Avenue
Cross Streets: Gates Avenue and Quincy Street
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1891
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Probably Parfitt Brothers
Other Buildings by Architect: St. Augustine RC Church, Grace Methodist Church in Park Slope. Berkeley, Grosvenor and Montague Apartment buildings in Brooklyn Heights, Truslow mansion, Crown Heights North, as well as row houses, flats buildings, fire houses and commercial buildings throughout Brooklyn
Landmarked: No

The story: The Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor (AICP) was founded in New York City in 1843 as a charitable organization aimed at helping those the Victorians called the “deserving poor.”

They established outreach centers that could further their goals, which included housing reform, and distribution centers for clothing, dry goods, medical supplies and coal. They also aided in burial expenses and sometimes rent.

Here in Brooklyn, a separate branch was founded by Seth Low and other rich and influential Brooklynites. They commissioned a two-story building on Livingston Street that would act as headquarters as well as a distribution and help center. It was located where 110 Livingston is today. The architects for that project were the Parfitt Brothers. (more…)

515-533 2nd St. KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 515-533 2nd Street
Cross Streets: 7th and 8th Avenue
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1894-1898
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Robert Dixon, James Nelson, J. L. Allan
Other Buildings by Architect: Robert Dixon was responsible for row houses and flats buildings throughout Brownstone Brooklyn
Landmarked: Yes, part of Park Slope Historic District (1973)

The story: This group of 10 houses is the product of the cooperation of three separate and otherwise unconnected architects. While that has probably occurred in our brownstone neighborhoods more often than we think, this is one of the few documented cases.

The houses were built for a single developer between 1894 and 1898, but were designed by three separate architects who decided to work together to design complementary houses.

The literature is unclear as to the roles Robert Dixon, James Nelson and J. L. Allan played in the design of the houses. Of the three, Robert Dixon is the best known, with a great body of work to his credit, including elsewhere in Park Slope, as well as Bedford Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights, Crown Heights North, Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill. He worked in Brooklyn from 1876 until 1903.

Perhaps Dixon laid out the general plan, and the others filled in the details, or the interiors. In any case, this is a beautiful row of houses in the Romanesque Revival style, characterized by the arched windows and doors. (more…)

645 Carlton Ave, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Flats building
Address: 645 Carlton Avenue
Cross Streets: Prospect and Park Places
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
Year Built: 1894
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Delany & Collins
Other Buildings by Architect: 245-249 Prospect Place, 255-265 Prospect Place, all Prospect Heights
Landmarked: Yes, part of Prospect Heights Historic District (2009)

The story: Prospect Heights as a neighborhood really developed twice. The Dutch and other settlers to the area found the land to be rocky and ill-suited for most farming, so there wasn’t much going on here until the mid-19th century.

In 1834, Brooklyn incorporated as a city, and divided itself into 9 wards. This was the 9th, and the least populated ward in the new city. At that time, the Old Flatbush toll road cut through the neighborhood, running a bit east of where modern Flatbush Avenue runs today.

The first houses in the neighborhood were small, wood-framed homes and businesses located close to Flatbush. A few of those buildings still stand, on Pacific and Carlton Streets.

But for most people, this neighborhood was like a fly-over state. Flatbush Avenue was well traveled and had good public transportation. People and goods were traveling to the harbor from agrarian Flatbush, but no one stopped to live here. (more…)

848 Quincy Street, PS 26, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Public School 26, now Excelsior Charter School
Address: 848 Quincy Street
Cross Streets: Ralph and Patchen avenues
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1890-91
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: James W. Naughton
Other Buildings by Architect: Many of Brooklyn’s finest school buildings, including Boys High School, Girls High School, PS 70, all in Bedford Stuyvesant. Also PS 9 Annex in Prospect Hts, PS 107 in Park Slope, PS 108 in Cypress Hills, among many others.
Landmarked: No

The story: The neighborhood around yesterday’s Building of the Day, 838 Quincy Street, yielded several other interesting buildings. This one was the most spectacular of all.

Even before the Civil War, there were more than enough students in this part of Brooklyn to cause the Brooklyn Board of Education to build a school here. In 1856, the first PS 26 opened in a wood-framed building on Ralph Avenue and New Bushwick Lane.

A year later, the city purchased eight lots of land between Ralph and Patchen Avenues, opening up onto Gates and Quincy Streets. It took them a while, but in 1869, the new school, a three story brick building, opened for business. (more…)