537 Sackett St, KL, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Majestic Quality Products Company Factory and Warehouse
Address: 537 Sackett Street
Cross Streets: Corner of Nevins Street
Neighborhood: Gowanus
Year Built: around 1950
Architectural Style: Industrial Moderne
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No, but part of proposed National Register of Historic Places Gowanus Industrial District.

The story: We get so many products from all over the world now, especially from China, so it’s hard to imagine where the things we put in our homes are made. If we were living in the 1950s, and we wanted lighting fixtures for our homes, we might have purchased them from a company like Majestic Quality Products, which had its factory right here in Brooklyn, at 537 Sackett Street, in Gowanus. (more…)

413 Degraw Street, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former stable/carriage house
Address: 413 Degraw Street
Cross Streets: Hoyt and Bond streets
Neighborhood: Carroll Gardens
Year Built: 1892, maybe
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival, possibly with later alterations
Architect: J. J. Gallagher, mason
Landmarked: No

The story: In December of 1892, James Lumas applied for and received a permit to build a two story stable here at 413 Degraw Street. Mr. Lumas must have been local, but his name never appears in the Brooklyn papers again. No. 413 is listed as his address on the permit. Whoever he was, and wherever he lived, he paid for a really nice stable and carriage house. The mason used on the job is also listed on the permit: J. J. Gallagher. We’ll probably never know if Gallagher designed the stable, or used a plan from a book, but wherever the design came from, it’s a nice piece of work. The stable has an apartment above it.

The building is a Romanesque Revival style building, with Colonial Revival details. It has the arched Romanesque windows and door, but the brick cornice and other brick trim make it much more Colonial Revival looking. According to the permit the building was to be constructed with a wooden cornice, but that is either gone, or never happened. It looks like the entire building got a Colonial Revival facelift in the first third of the 20th century, and lost the cornice to decorative brickwork, which also surrounds the arched windows and door. But then again, this could all be original. Because this building’s construction date is a mystery. (more…)

botd-map-102214

Pratt student and Brownstoner reader Matthew Petric has mapped all the buildings profiled in Brownstoner’s Building of the Day series over the years and has very kindly shared with us the link. His tongue-in-cheek title: “Brooklyn, one (thousand) building(s) at a time.”

The map can be clicked, searched by address and, most interestingly, viewed by date (or a range of dates) of construction.

Thank you, Matt, for making our architectural history columns more accessible and showing them from a new angle. The map was created for Pratt class Spatial Thinking, Data, and Design.

284-290 Stuyvesant Ave, CD Brazee for LPC 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 284-290 Stuyvesant Avenue
Cross Streets: Jefferson and Hancock streets
Neighborhood: Stuyvesant Heights
Year Built: 1880-81
Architectural Style: Neo-Grec
Architect: Builder James P. Miller
Landmarked: Yes, part of Stuyvesant Heights Expansion HD (2013)

The story: Stuyvesant Heights was first developed just before the Civil War as a suburban retreat for the wealthy brewers and businessmen who were making their fortunes in Bushwick. They, in turn, attracted other wealthy men from downtown and elsewhere who wanted to live in splendid isolation on large lots with garden space, but still easily commutable to their businesses in Manhattan or on Brooklyn’s piers. That ease of commute was provided by the excellent facilities that ran along Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue. By the 1870s, developers began dividing up the remaining Stuyvesant Heights plots. In the space of 30 years, the mansions and villas were surrounded by, or replaced by, row houses. The big city had reached Stuyvesant Heights. (more…)

199 Ryerson Walk, Memorial Hall, Pratt, SSpellen 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Memorial Hall, Pratt Institute
Address: 199 Ryerson Walk
Cross Streets: Willoughby and DeKalb Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1926-27
Architectural Style: Art Deco
Architect: John Mead Howells
Other Buildings by Architect: On Pratt Campus – Engineering Quadrangle, Willoughby Hall. Also with partner William Hood -Daily News Building, Manhattan, Tribune Tower, Chicago.
Landmarked: No, but on the National Register of Historic Places

The story: John Mead Howells was the son of 19th century author and editor William Dean Howells. He spent his undergraduate days at Harvard, before going on to graduate school there for architecture. In the mid-1890s, he went to Paris and attended the prestigious L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he completed his architectural education. When he came back to New York, he opened up a firm with fellow Paris student, Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, the eldest son of millionaire Anson Phelps Stokes.

While partners, Stokes designed St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University, while Howell designed Stormfield, a vacation home for Samuel Clemens, who was a close friend of Howell’s father. Both the chapel and the home were very different from the work both would do later in their careers, but showed that they had a mastery of traditional form, and a knack for tweaking that form to a present-day, and very modern result. (more…)

1-hanson-place-3-101714

You can’t celebrate Brooklyn or 10 years of Brownstoner without the Williamsburgh Bank building, one of Brooklyn’s greatest structures.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building
Address: 1 Hanson Place, corner of Ashland Place
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1927-29
Architectural Style: Art Deco, with Byzantine and Romanesque influences
Architect: Halsey, McCormack & Helmer
Other buildings by architects: Central Methodist Church, next door, redo of Former Dime SB at Fulton Mall, Former Kings County SB at Nostrand and Eastern Parkway, former Brevoort SB on Fulton Street, Bed Stuy.
Landmarked: Yes. Brooklyn Academy of Music HD,1977. Bank interior, lobby, landmarked in 1996.

The story: Like thousands of Brooklynites who worked or walked in the area, I used this building hundreds of times to check the time. My mother’s dentist was in this building. For many people, this building IS Brooklyn, almost as much as the Brooklyn Bridge is. For many years, Brooklyn’s tallest building, (second now, thanks to the Brooklyner) the Williamsburgh Bank Building is an icon of our borough, as well as one of New York City’s most beautiful skyscrapers.

The firm of Halsey, McCormack and Helmer produced some great bank buildings, not only in Brooklyn, but also the Dollar Savings Bank in the Bronx, and the Greenwich Savings Bank on 57th Street in Manhattan. The firm organized in 1920, with Hayward Halsey, a developer, former banker George H. McCormack, and architect Robert Helmer, who took charge of the design office, and is responsible for actually designing all of their buildings. If you think about it, this partnership was perfect. Banker McCormick was well-connected to the industry, and could get their foot in the door. He also knew intimately what was needed in the design of a proper bank. Helmer designed, and Halsey got it built.
(more…)

1940 E. 36 St. Lotthouse. Stu-Joe 1

We could do a month of important buildings in Brooklyn and not cover them all. But this one has to go on the list. We all come from somewhere, and Brooklyn began with houses like this. Our 10th anniversary tribute continues.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Hendrick I. Lott House
Address: 1940 East 36th Street
Cross Streets: Fillmore Avenue and Avenue S
Neighborhood: Marine Park
Year Built: Oldest part 1719, main house 1800
Architectural Style: Vernacular Dutch Colonial
Architect/Builder: Henrick I. Lott, building upon earlier Johannes Lott house
Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (1989) and National Register of Historic Places.

The story: We don’t often stray far beyond brownstone Brooklyn and Victorian Flatbush, but it’s time some attention was paid to some of the oldest houses in the borough. There aren’t many left. The Dutch settlers who came here in the early and mid-1600s gave us the towns that would make up Kings County, and their names, many of which are quite familiar to us as street and neighborhood names. Lefferts, Remsen, Lott, Schermerhorn, Vanderbilt, Wyckoff, Van Nostrand, Suydam, Van Siclen, Schenck, Van Brunt, and many more.

Their names remain, but their homes, by and large, are long gone. We here in New York City are always growing so fast, we think nothing of plowing under the past, and replacing it as soon as possible with the new, only to see that disappear in time. This is not a 21st century conceit; it’s been going on for centuries. Consequently, most of the early homes of the 17th and 18th centuries are gone. Those precious few that remain have survived mostly because the families that built them have held on to them, literally, for centuries. The location helps, too. The further away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, the better, when it comes to a house beating the odds of survival. The Lott house is one of those lucky few that is still with us. (more…)

121 NY Ave, NYMethChurch, SSPellen 4

Here is the second in my celebration of important Brooklyn buildings covered over the years in Brownstoner. Happy 10th anniversary.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally New York Avenue Methodist Church, now Union United Methodist
Address: 121 New York Avenue
Cross Streets: Dean and Bergen Streets
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1891
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Josiah Cleveland Cady
Other Buildings by Architect: Manhattan: Old Metropolitan Opera House (demolished) 77th St. southern wing of the Museum of Natural History. In Brooklyn – 1290 Pacific Street in Crown Heights North, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Williamsburg.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Phase I of Crown Heights North HD (2007)

The story: This church is the embodiment of the hymn “A mighty fortress is our God.” It’s a massive brick masterpiece of seven connected masses stretching the entire block, consisting of the entrance porch, vestibule, auditorium, tower, Sunday school, parlor and rectory. Depending on which way you approach the building, it’s a visual treat, and a marvel of design, materials and construction. (more…)

Prospect Park Boathouse, SSpellen 1

This week we are celebrating Brownstoner’s 10th anniversary. I’ve picked four favorites from past columns to celebrate. Here’s the first:

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Audubon Center at the Boathouse, aka Prospect Park Boathouse
Address: 101 East Drive (offical address)
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1905
Architectural Style: Italian Renaissance Revival
Architect: Helmle & Huberty, 1999 restoration — Ralph Carmosino
Other buildings by architect: Tennis House in Prospect Park. St. Barbara’s Church, Bushwick. St. Gregory’s Church, Crown Heights North. Bossert Hotel, Brooklyn Heights. Park Shelter, McGolrick Park, Greenpoint
Landmarked: Yes

The story: If I could ever decide on a definitive list of the 10 best buildings in Brooklyn, I’d have to find room for this one. It’s simply, and in the best sense of the word simply, magnificent. It also has a great history, and we are very lucky that it’s still here.

When Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed this great park, they built manmade structures to enhance the natural beauty of the park, and provide places to congregate for events, or sit and enjoy the natural preserve. The first boathouse, built in 1876, sat on piers, and faced south. In 1905, this Classically inspired, terra-cotta encased building was designed to replace it. It faces west, by the way, purposefully to catch the sunsets over the water. (more…)

797 Broadway, SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Mixed use commercial loft building
Address: 797 Broadway
Cross Streets: Corner Fayette Street
Neighborhood: Bushwick
Year Built: Mid to late 1880s
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Probably/perhaps Theobald Engelhardt
Other Buildings by Architect: Factories, breweries, row houses, private homes, churches, loft buildings, warehouses, and more, mostly here in the Eastern District of Bushwick/Williamsburg/Eastern Bed Stuy
Landmarked: No

The story: Brooklyn’s Broadway is one of those great streets that needs to be walked. If you are interested in architecture, Broadway can be immensely frustrating, because the elevated tracks obscure everything, including some great commercial architecture. The tracks also make decent photography of those buildings next to impossible. If you are in a car, you miss a lot of details, and if you are driving that car, your eyes should be on the street, because Broadway seems to bring out the crazy in drivers. But the good stuff is there, nonetheless, and if you get a chance, start walking and look up once in a while. One of the buildings you see may be this one, on the corner of Broadway and Fayette Street, between Park and Flushing Avenues. (more…)

13-17 Lexington Ave, Pincus and Tobias factory , SSPellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Pincus & Tobias Shoe Factory
Address: 13-23 Lexington Avenue
Cross Streets: Grand and Classon Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1911, rebuilt around 1922
Architectural Style: Early 20th century brick factory building
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Brooklyn was once home to a large and profitable shoe manufacturing industry. Yes, shoes were once made in Brooklyn; all kinds of shoes. We had factories that made shoes and boots for men, women and children. There were factories that made lower end products, mid-priced products and high end and fashionable shoes and boots. The companies were scattered all over the manufacturing ends of Brooklyn, but by the beginning of the 20th century, were mainly centered in the eastern Clinton Hill/Western Bedford/southern Wallabout corridor.

Back then, the Myrtle and Lexington Avenue el trains rumbled overhead, and frequent trolley service ran along the north/south avenues, making this area perfect for workers to commute to easily. Factory and other industrial buildings sprang up here, and for the most part, still stand. One of the largest shoe factories in the area was that of Pincus & Tobias Inc., the makers of fine women’s shoes and boots. (more…)

38-42 Washington Avenue, SSPellen 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Mixed use retail and residential buildings
Address: 38-44 Washington Avenue, aka 200 Flushing Avenue
Cross Streets: Flushing and Park Avenues
Neighborhood: Wallabout
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival with Romanesque and classical details
Architect: Benjamin Finkensieper
Other Buildings by Architect: Knox Hat Factory building in Crown Heights, and many other factories, warehouses, churches and tenement buildings throughout Brooklyn.
Landmarked: No, but part of a proposed LPC Wallabout Industrial Historic District, and a National Register nomination for the same.

The story: At the turn of the 20th century, the factories and warehouses of Wallabout and the activities within the Brooklyn Navy Yard were at an all-time high. Only the World War II years would surpass it. This group of buildings was built for Henry Waldeck, a very successful builder and developer who did a lot of work in both industrial and residential areas. A large fire on this, and surrounding blocks in 1907 damaged or destroyed the wood framed buildings that were on this site, giving Waldeck, who had owned many of them already, the perfect excuse to rebuild, and build better. (more…)