295 Gates Ave, NS, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former private house, then club house, now church
Address: 295 Gates Avenue
Cross Streets: Franklin and Bedford Avenues
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1869-1870? Perhaps altered or replaced later
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Possibly Amzi Hill
Other Buildings by Architect: Row houses, mansions, flats buildings and tenements throughout Bedford Stuyvesant and Stuyvesant Heights. Also in Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope
Landmarked: No

The story: There used to be many more large mansions in Bedford Stuyvesant. If you walk or drive around the neighborhood, it’s possible to come across one or two on a block you never would have thought they’d be on. Many of them just didn’t survive the economic changes, and many of those that did are merely shadows of their former selves. They’ve been chopped up, covered up, covered over and made into lodges, schools and most often, churches.

Gates Avenue was once one of central Bedford Stuyvesant’s premier streets. It’s a long street, stretching from Clinton Hill to Bushwick, and was once home to some very successful and wealthy people, the most successful being John Gibb, whose enormous mansion is just down the street. When Gibb had his house built here, other wealthy people followed, moving into superior speculative housing, much of it developed by Mr. Gibb himself. Other people had houses built themselves.

That appears to have been the case for this house, which was built for Captain Frederick Bolton Langston, a wealthy ship captain. Amzi Hill, who designed many of the earlier houses in this neighborhood, as well as the Gibb mansion, may have designed this house.The house looks more Queen Ann than Italianate, the prevailing style of the day, so perhaps it was added on to in the 1880s, or replaced by an new facade. The records are not forthcoming, although the papers do emphasize that the Captain moved to this address in 1870. (more…)

806 lexington avenue bed stuy 22015

This Neo-Grec brick-and-brownstone two-family isn’t very big, but the relatively low asking price might appeal to house hunters on a budget. It has some charming details, such as the plaster and moldings in the rear parlor, as well as some unfortunate alterations, such as midcentury doors.

It doesn’t appear to have been recently renovated, although the listing says it’s in move-in condition (and indeed, it’s occupied). The listing says it could be delivered vacant “for the right offer.” The ask is $775,000. What do you think of it?

806 Lexington Avenue [Elliman] GMAP

675 monroe street bed stuy 22015

This recently renovated three-bedroom, two-bath duplex in Bed Stuy seems spacious enough for the dough and comes with a private backyard. The combined living and dining area looks adequate, and all three bedrooms are large. It’s all modern in style, with down lights, exposed brick, and baseboard heating. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and a dishwasher, and the bathrooms are sleek. It’s about four blocks from the Gates Avenue J/Z stop and 12 blocks to the A/C at Utica. What’s your opinion of it for $2,900 a month?

675 Monroe Street, #1 [Corcoran] GMAP


It seems that every time a brownstone is listed as a House of the Day, the debate begins. How much will it cost to renovate and decorate? Estimates of $500,000 and over a million are common numbers thrown around. But what about those of us who want to renovate a brownstone and aren’t sitting on $2,000,000?

The naysayers will say if you don’t spend several hundred thousand dollars, then you’ll be living in a Home Depot special. I will say that renovating and decorating a brownstone can be done nicely and on budget with a lot of research and patience.

I also understand that having this entire debate is from a position of privilege — if you’re in the market for a brownstone in Brooklyn these days, whether your renovation budget is $50,000 or $2,000,000, you’re doing fine. But with that being said, here are some tips to help with renovating and decorating. (more…)


A mutual friend forwarded these photos, taken by a neighbor about two months ago, of the inside of the Carpenter Gothic church at 809 Jefferson Avenue. The photographer commented:

Friends of mine belong to this church and tell me that they struggled with the situation for a very long time but ultimately decided they couldn’t afford to save a very deteriorated structure. It is very sad, indeed. I don’t know who could have saved this building. To anyone in the neighborhood, this is not a surprise. We will always wonder what could have been done to save it, and let this inspire us to prevent further loss of these old gems.

Click through to see the stained-glass windows in the balcony over the entrance.

809 Jefferson Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]


134 Pulaski St. NS, PS. 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row house
Address: 134 Pulaski Street
Cross Streets: Marcy and Tompkins avenues
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 2005
Architectural Style: Contemporary, based on Queen Anne style
Architect: Henry Radusky for Bricolage Designs
Other Buildings by Architect: Lots of contemporary apartment buildings and houses across Brooklyn
Landmarked: No

The story: I was looking for good examples of modern row house architecture, and I came on this house in one of the less gentrified blocks of Bedford Stuyvesant. I’ve been told I don’t like new architecture, and that really isn’t true. I don’t like cheap and lazy architecture, and I refuse to believe that all new construction has to be ugly. Other cities in industrialized and urban areas across the country manage to build really nice looking infill and modern housing. Why does it seem so hard for us? (more…)


Unfortunately, the construction boom has reached one of Brooklyn’s most notable structures: The pre-Civil War-era Carpenter Gothic (or New England Gothic) wood frame church at 809 Jefferson Avenue in Bed Stuy. The structure, which appears on an 1854 map and could be as old as the 1840s, is one of Bed Stuy’s oldest buildings.

It’s in a very old area in the northeast of the neighborhood that at the moment is sleepy and bare and dotted with the occasional mid-19th-century wood frame building. The area is not landmarked, and not likely to be, and we won’t be surprised if in 10 years it’s utterly transformed with Williamsburg-style glassy mid-rise apartment buildings.

Interior demo began in January, and the whole thing will be gone by the end of this month, according to DNAinfo. (more…)

28 Stuyvesant Ave, CB, PS

There are hundreds of interesting buildings in Brooklyn for which little information is available, so I’ve held off writing about them. This year, I’m going to feature some of those structures, and tell you what I can – because they too, are worthy of being a BOTD. Any information on them from you is always welcome.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Free-standing private home
Address: 28 Stuyvesant Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Willoughby Avenue
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1903-04
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival-Colonial Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: This house was built at the beginning of the 20th century, while this part of the Eastern District, and Willoughby Avenue were still highly fashionable places to live. I wasn’t able to find any definitive information out about this house, except that it does not appear in one atlas from 1904, but does appear in another from the same year. I deduce the building date as occurring sometime between 1903 and 1904. It took time to put those atlases together, certainly time for a building to start construction.

I don’t know who designed this building, but it’s an interesting combination of Renaissance Revival styling with more Colonial Revival dormers tacked on to the roof. It’s got late 1890s style light grey bricks, classical detailing in the lintels, the bay and the porch, and probably in the cornice, which is now either covered up or gone. Then you have that 20th century Colonial dormer with the classic eaves return, and then the quoins. It also has a garage, another sign that this house was built for someone with money. In 1904, only wealthy people could afford automobiles. (more…)


If you didn’t catch the broadcast of WNET’s hour-long celebration of the 50-year-old New York City landmarks law Saturday night, you can watch it online. “The Landmarks Preservation Movement,” an episode in the public television station’s “Treasures of New York” documentary series, sweeps through landmarks history to the present day, comparing the landmarking of Brooklyn Heights, New York City’s first landmark district, in 1965 to the current-day effort to expand the Bed Stuy historic district.

If not for the efforts of Brooklyn Heights resident and distinguished preservationist Otis Pratt Pearsall, pictured above, who takes us on a tour of the Heights, 80 percent of the area would likely be gone today, according to the film. Bed Stuy resident and preservationist (and sometimes Brownstoner commenter) Claudette Brady speaks movingly of the need for protection for Bed Stuy’s 19th century houses, arguing that landmarking is crucial to preserving the community and its way of life. Catch her at 33:46 and again at 56:38.

Treasures of New York: The Landmarks Preservation Movement [WNET 13]
Still image from “The Landmarks Preservation Movement”

Shirley Chisholm, Prospect Place, composite

When I was growing up, I knew who Shirley Chisholm was. I come from that generation of African American children whose parents made sure we knew who all of the “firsts” were. Kids growing up today take the many achievements of African Americans for granted, and that’s a great thing, because we should be able to achieve whatever we want without notice or fuss. We shouldn’t have to be able to make a list of the number of black nuclear scientists, cancer researchers, neurosurgeons, fashion designers, Oscar winners, hockey players or even Republicans; we should be able to be well represented in all facets of American life.

But when I was in my formative years, during the 1960s, we were just getting to the point where there were a lot of “firsts.” The Civil Rights Movement, which happened right before my eyes on our black and white television, was both sobering and inspiring. We grew up checking the pages of Ebony magazine, the black version of Life, which always had articles about those black folks who had arrived – pioneers in all walks of life, “firsts” or sometimes only “seconds” or “thirds” in every field we had managed to conquer. Shirley Chisholm was one of those proud pioneers, and as a female, she was of special interest to my mother, and thus, to me.

But it wasn’t until I actually moved to Brooklyn that I realized what that all meant. It’s easy to be somewhere else reading about great people of any nationality, time or location and be inspired, but when you live where they lived, walk past the buildings they were educated, worked or lived in, and see the world they saw, you get a special affinity for what it was like to shape that landscape and those people into history. While I lived in Brooklyn, I lived in Shirley Chisholm’s stomping ground, and so in honor of her achievements, I’d like to propose a Shirley Chisholm Walking Tour. (more…)

1188 bedford avenue 2

The condo-fication of Bed Stuy continues with the sales launch of a five-story condo building at 1188 Bedford Avenue, on the corner of Putnam Avenue. Developed by Boaz Gilad’s Brookland Capital and designed by Suresh Manchanda, the development has 14 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Prices range from $379,000 for a 400-square-foot studio to $825,000 for an 850-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bath condo. (That’s about $970/foot, for those of you keeping score at home.)

Apartments feature 10-foot ceilings, rainfall showerheads, pental quartz lattice countertops, white oak hardwood floors and washer/dryers. Some units have terraces or balconies too. Shared amenities include a roof deck and bike storage. What do you think of the look and the pricing?

Click through for more photos and floorplans.

1188 Bedford Avenue Listings [Aptsandlofts.com] GMAP
1188 Bedford Avenue [Official]
Three Mixed-Use Buildings Rising at Putnam and Bedford in Bed Stuy [Brownstoner]


333-347 Nostrand avenue bed stuy screenshot

Four five-story apartment buildings will replace a set of five attached brick low-rises at 333-341 Nostrand Avenue between Quincy and Gates in Bed Stuy. New building applications were filed yesterday for the development at 335, 337339 and 341 Nostrand Avenue.

Each building will have six units spread across roughly 4,200 square feet of residential space, and 1,300 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor. The apparently turn-of-the-century buildings have ground floor commercial space and apartments above. They take up about half the block and rise two and three stories. Demolition permits have not yet been filed to knock down the old brick buildings.

The ubiquitous Issac and Stern will design the project, and the developer appears to be the longtime property owner. GMAP

Image via Google Maps