Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: The Decatur
Address: 142-144 Decatur Street
Cross Streets: Corner Marcus Garvey Boulevard
Neighborhood: Stuyvesant Heights
Year Built: 1888
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: George L. Morse
Other work by architect: Temple Bar Building – Court Street, Franklin Trust – Montague Street, Abraham & Straus annex – Livingston Street, as well as many more row houses, flats buildings, churches, and office buildings.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Stuyvesant Heights Expansion, Stuyvesant Heights HD (2013)
The story: While the developers of our brownstone blocks were busy filling them with rows of houses, the avenues in our neighborhoods were receiving attention, as well. It was on these streets that the city allowed commercial and civic buildings, and where churches and temples often stood, as well as rows of flats buildings, many with storefronts on the ground floors.
The formal concept of zoning didn’t come into existence until the early 20th century, but Victorian city planners already had a pretty good idea how to create mixed income and purposed neighborhoods. Sensible planning could provide everyone in those neighborhoods with the amenities and services they would need to be able to live, shop, worship, and perhaps even work, within easy walking distance. That is one of the strongest reasons why today these neighborhoods are still so desirable.
The mixed use flats buildings on the corners of blocks provided excellent opportunities for special buildings. These buildings anchored the block, and were visual gateways to the homes that lay beyond them, so it isn’t surprising that very often the fine architects who designed the houses also were called on to design many of these corner buildings. Very often, if a developer could get the desired lots, he would have an architect design the corner flats building, and then tie the design into the houses as they turned the corner. Many of Stuyvesant Heights’ blocks were designed in this manner. (more…)