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…)


Another cafe has opened in east Bed Stuy. Butch & CoCo Cafe’s weekend brunch menu includes cheddar and blue cheese sliders, chicken tacos, and red velvet waffles and fried chicken. The spot also serves bagels, eggs and sausage, a “tlt” sandwich with turkey bacon, french toast, and a spring salad with artichoke and cucumber.

“It is easy to miss because the signage is not that eyecatching, but their limited menu is super delicious (mostly tacos and sliders),” a Brownstoner reader who lives nearby told us. Inside there is counter seating at the window and reclaimed wood around the main counter and the walls.

T Roc Homestyle Cooking opened nearby on Ralph in October, and Manny’s reopened on Patchen the same month.

For now Butch & CoCo is open only on weekends from 9 to 6:30 pm, workers told us when we stopped by. They deliver. The address is 153 Howard Avenue.  GMAP (more…)


Just listed is this two-bedroom parlor and garden level duplex in an 1890s Neo-Grec townhouse in Bed Stuy. Many original details remain, including wood work, window shutters, decorative fireplaces with colorful tile, and ornate plaster work.

In addition to 1,900 square feet of interior living space, there is a private garden and a deck. The one bathroom is located on the garden floor, in the extension.

What do you think of the $4,000 ask for this Bed Stuy location?

191 Hancock Street, #1 [Park Property Advisors] GMAP
Photos by Park Property Advisors (more…)


Now taking applications for seven affordable rentals: 96 Brooklyn Avenue. If you’ve spent any time in north Crown Heights, you’ve probably seen this eye-catching 1880s Queen Anne building. Designed by noted 19th century Brooklyn architect firm Parfitt Brothers, it’s landmarked but has crumbling and hidden under overgrown shrubbery for years.

Nonprofit housing developers NIA JV LLC and ELH Management LLC acquired it in 2013 with plans to turn it into seven affordable rentals and restore the exterior as per LPC requirements, as we detailed at the time. (ELH Management also handled the award-winning restoration of Montrose Morris’ Imperial Apartments on the corner of Pacific Street and Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights.)

Also now taking applications are seven more affordable rentals in other historic buildings in Crown Heights and Bed Stuy, as this online notice from HPD and New York City Housing Connect details. The deadline to apply is May 13.

Rents range from $877 a month for a studio to $1,541 for a three-bedroom. Income requirements range from $36,680 for one person to $120,240 for a household of six. Check out the online notice for more details on rents and income. (more…)

Gowanus Canal, 1905, BPL

This is the story of two poor families in Brooklyn and a terrible crime. In the first episode, we met one of the ne’er-do-well Walsh boys and his sweetheart, 16-year-old Barbara Gronenthal, who worked as a maid for a well-off family in Bedford in 1881.

Barbara was eager to please her employer, the Carlisle family. They lived in a four story Neo-Grec brownstone on a quiet block filled with similar houses, part of the great building frenzy that had overtaken Brooklyn.

Like many upper middle-class families, they had at least one live-in servant, as well as help like Barbara and the cook, who were day workers.

Barbara lived in Brooklyn too, but not in a fine brownstone. (more…)


Outside, it looks like any Brooklyn townhouse. Inside, it’s three Edwardian flats with original details and recent mechanical updates.

Built in 1904, according to the listing, the building still retains its original plaster, built-ins, fretwork screens, mantels, and wood floors. Electrical, boiler and roof are all recently updated.

Each flat is set up as an identical apartment with double parlor in front and side galley kitchen in the rear. The top two flats have six rooms; the ground floor has five.

An open house is set for Sunday. What do you think of it and the ask of $1,550,000?

522 A MacDonough Street [Halstead]
Photos by Halstead



Two stories of concrete-block wall have risen in places at a large apartment building going up at 168 Franklin Avenue in Bed Stuy, we saw when we stopped by last week.

A rendering on the fence shows a relatively uniform five story concrete, brick and glass building. It’s going into a formerly vacant lot that spans 168 to 180 Franklin Avenue. The building will have 118 luxury rental units over 80,000 square feet, according to permits granted in March and the developer’s web site. There will also be a copy center and parking for 59 cars in the building. Completion is expected in the fourth quarter of this year.

Issac and Stern Architects is the architect of record. Developer Adam America bought the property for $8,496,882 in September of 2011.

Click through for more photos and an already-published rendering below. GMAP


A long-empty storefront at 327 Stuyvesant Avenue is being renovated, we saw when we passed by Saturday. The property sits on a well-trafficked corner in Stuyvesant Heights not far from the express stop at Utica.

Many empty retail spaces in the area have found new commercial tenants recently or are being spruced up in the hopes of attracting them. (more…)

952 Putnam Ave-Living Room-NYC

This Bed Stuy duplex apartment offers plenty of indoor space and has a backyard large enough for outdoor dining and recreation. Its three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms make it suitable for a family; all bedrooms accommodate queen-size beds plus sitting area furniture.

The first level features parquet floors in the living and dining rooms, and there is a big kitchen in the back with an island. There are also plenty of old details such as paneling, molding, a pier mirror and old doors.

Click through for more photos after the jump. The ask is $4,500 a month. Do you think that’s reasonable, considering the location fairly far east?

952 Putnam Avenue, #1 [Halstead]  GMAP
Photos by Halstead


Walsh, 502 Willoughby, GS, PS

Everyone who knew the Walsh boys knew they would come to a bad end.

Brooklyn in the 1880s was a lot like today, with expensive neighborhoods and wealthy people, and those who served them. If you were poor, uneducated or an immigrant, sometimes you had to do unpleasant jobs to survive. In 1880, there was no social safety net.

The alternative was starving or becoming a criminal. For some people it was just more satisfying to simply take what others had worked for. That’s certainly what Frank “Buck” Walsh believed.

The four Walsh children came from a poor family. Their father had not been right in the head since he fell down and cracked his skull when the eldest, Frank, was a child. Their mother, Catherine, had to struggle to make ends meet, taking in washing and odd jobs to feed her children and husband, who could only work sporadically.

The family lived in a tenement in what is now Dumbo, one of the poorest areas in the city. Catherine often drank too much, and was unable to keep track of what her three boys were doing. Fortunately, her only daughter turned out alright, got married, and was a help to her parents. But no one could stop the boys from getting into trouble. (more…)

359 Decatur Street-1-4-14-15

This three-bedroom duplex in Bed Stuy retains an original feel with decorative marble mantels and original moldings. Modern kitchen appliances and a high end stacked washer/dryer complement the apartment’s original character. There is also an updated bathroom.

It occupies the top two floors of a brownstone and is close to Stuy Heights shops. Do you think it’s a good deal, for $3,300 a month?

359 Decatur Street, #2 [Douglas Elliman] GMAP
Photo above by Douglas Elliman; photo below by Property Shark