971-975 Bedford Avenue, EBSB, SSpellen 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally East Brooklyn Savings Bank, now Chase Bank
Address: 971-975 Bedford Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner DeKalb Avenue
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1920-1922
Architectural Style: Neo-classical
Architect: Koch & Wagner
Other works by architect: Ralph Bunche House, Kew Gardens; Ridgewood Masonic Temple, Bushwick
Landmarked: No

The story: The East Brooklyn Savings Bank was founded in 1860. Like most local banks of this period, it was started by area businessmen and merchants as a place where they could conveniently park their money, while offering the neighborhood banking services.

Savings banks were always popular in growing neighborhoods, in part because you didn’t have to be rich to have a savings account, just thrifty. And thrift paid off, as savings banks offered interest. The banks grew rapidly.

Soon after the bank incorporated, the first branch opened on the corner of Franklin and Myrtle avenues. It was a small building, and the bank soon moved to a larger building across the street at 643 Myrtle Avenue, where it stayed until 1922.

That building still stands, although the founders of this bank would never recognize it.

As time passed, the East Brooklyn Savings Bank grew, and eventually opened branches in Bay Ridge and other neighborhoods far from its base. It was among Brooklyn’s most successful savings banks. (more…)

25-monroe-1-062915

The sales listing calls this 21-foot-wide Italianate brownstone at 25 Monroe Street in Bed Stuy “classic and timeless,” and that seems a fair estimation. It’s a beaut, full of airy, high-ceilinged spaces and nice details, including arched doorways, crown moldings, original woodwork, French doors, and marble mantels.

Generally speaking, the house looks to be in top shape, and the listing says there are “new systems throughout,” including central air. There’s a lovely kitchen in the lower duplex that looks recently renovated, and marble bathrooms. (more…)

197-patchen-avenue-1-062215

A wave of new dining options is hitting Bed Stuy, and tomorrow, the neighborhood will gain a new Haitian restaurant. Grandchamps is set to open Tuesday at 197 Patchen Avenue on the corner of Halsey, in a former bodega space.

It will also serve as a cafe in the mornings and it will sell groceries. We chanced by over the weekend and saw workers inside and a welcoming sign out front. The venue will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. (more…)

139 Bainbridge St. BPL, 1928

The big white house on the corner of Stuyvesant Avenue and Bainbridge Street in Stuyvesant Heights is one of the most beautiful on this street of fine townhouses and large mansions. In Chapter One we learned who built it. In Chapter Two it was home to the Sutton family, torn apart by the miserable marriage of Francis and Louise Sutton. The house was a casualty of the dissolution of their union, and by 1919 had passed into new hands. Our story continues:

This story is also about two remarkable sisters, pioneers who chose to spend their lives helping women and girls in need of support and care.

Myrtis and Mary Fish hailed from Oswego County, NY. They came with their parents and a brother to Brooklyn as children, and were educated in Brooklyn public schools. All three Fish children became respected in their chosen professions.

They were distant relatives of the powerful and wealthy Fish family of Manhattan. Hamilton Fish was the most famous member, and was a senator, a governor of New York, and Secretary of State to President Ulysses S. Grant.

Myrtis Fish graduated from the New York School of Law, and was said to be the first female attorney licensed to practice in Brooklyn and Long Island. Her brother Lawrence also became a lawyer, and was a municipal court judge in Brooklyn.

Myrtis became a probation officer, and for over 20 years was the female probation officer for the Brooklyn Night Court.

Fish felt strongly about helping the women she saw pass through the courts and in her sphere of influence. She wanted to establish a place where girls and women could find a place of refuge and help.

She enlisted the help of several wealthy society ladies, and, most importantly, her sister. (more…)

goodwill-1104-fulton-street-061715

The Goodwill at 1104 Fulton Street in Bed Stuy is closing, workers there told us, because its landlord, well-known commercial developer Bawabeh Brothers, is building bigger.

A new five-story commercial building with stores, doctor’s offices and a school on the top two floors is planned, according to new-building permit filed last year and disapproved in January.

Bawabeh Brothers, also known as Bawabeh Realty Holdings, owns other properties along Fulton Street and was in the news last year for its plans to replace a retail strip with a nail salon and cleaners at 1347-1361 Fulton Street with upscale eateries. “Neighborhood gentrification is inevitable and moving quickly,” enthused a marketing brochure aimed at potential commercial tenants.

The block is booming with sales and development. (more…)

139 Bainbridge St. BE, 1903

The house at 139 Bainbridge Street was built in 1903 by developer William Clayton for an upscale buyer. The architect was Axel Hedman. He designed a house with all of the most modern amenities of the day. Please check out Part One of our story for the details. The house was purchased by exporter Francis M. Sutton, who lived there with his wife Louise and their three children. But this was not a happy home. Our story continues:

In 1912 Louise Sutton filed for a divorce from her husband of 19 years. The story made the front page of the Brooklyn Eagle on February 20, 1912.

Through her attorney, Louise Sutton told the judge that her husband was having an affair. She said that many of his business trips involved assignations with other women, some of which took place at a resort hotel in White Plains and at a hotel in Manhattan.

She also told the judge that although she and her children lived in a palatial home on Bainbridge Street, she was actually destitute. Her son Sherwood, who was 19, was at Princeton, but the other two children, Doris, 17, and Francis Jr., 14, lived at home. (more…)

standupbedstuy flier

This morning one of our readers tipped us off to these fliers that were stuffed in car windows and stuck on front doors throughout Stuyvesant Heights in Bed Stuy. The fliers use racist imagery of watermelons and fried chicken, presumably to paint the investors who are buying up property in the neighborhood as racist. And they urge homeowners “Shut it down Bed Stuy by any means necessary.” Presumably that means not selling their homes to investors.

Our reader thought the fliers might be a response to New York Magazine recent story that revealed the real estate business practices of a racist landlord-investor. He described replacing black renters with white ones and speculated black property owners in Bed Stuy would start “dumping” houses to buy in East New York. (more…)

1134-fulton-street-b-061115

Turns out the Karl Fischer-designed mixed-use rental building at 1134 Fulton Street in Bed Stuy will be even bigger than we thought, and contain a grocery and affordable housing.

This is the development we told you about last month that is replacing the shuttered Key Foods on the corner of Franklin Avenue. The existing two-story commercial building, pictured below, is also home to Popeyes and several other small businesses. (more…)

724 Macon Street1

The 1980s-era kitchen could use an upgrade, but everything else about this Renaissance Revival brownstone at 724 Macon Street in Bed Stuy is gloriously intact — including an original Gibson Girl-era bathroom.

It has an oval pedestal sink, built-in vanity mirror, porcelain hex tile floor, claw foot tub, and beautiful original subway tile walls with a  course of decorative tile with bas-relief boughs in pastel colors. (And yes, the plumbing can be upgraded without harming the original detail.)

There’s tons more, including stained glass windows, terra cotta foliate ornament on the facade, elaborate wood mantels with tile, original shutters, built-ins in the dining room and kitchen, and on and on. The listing says these are in “museum quality condition.” Mechanicals are not mentioned.  (more…)

664 Lafayette Avenue1

This house at 664 Lafayette Avenue in Bed Stuy has a ton of details, including a plaster arch over a pier mirror in the rear parlor and in the entry hall. It’s in livable condition but could use some updates, according to the listing.

We see French doors, plaster moldings, an original stair with new treads, and wood work that appears to have been stripped of paint. There are no photos of kitchens or baths.

It is set up as a rental apartment over an owner’s triplex. It is across the street from Herbert Von King Park. What do you think of it and the ask of $1,499,000?

664 Lafayette Avenue [Corcoran] GMAP
Interior photos by Corcoran, exterior photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

(more…)

139 Bainbridge St. CB, PS

Much of the section of Stuyvesant Heights in the vicinity of Stuyvesant and Bainbridge avenues used to belong to the Prosser family. They came to this part of town in 1857 and bought up a huge swath of land from the Lefferts family.

Thomas Prosser, the family patriarch, made his fortune from iron and steel. During the London Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, Prosser met Alfred Krupp, a highly successful German iron manufacturer. The two men became friends for life.

American iron and steel manufacturing was no match for Germany’s in terms of output or technological capability at that point, and both men could see a lucrative business opportunity. A westward-growing America needed German steel for railroads and other production.

Prosser was soon signed up as the American agent for Krupp. That relationship lasted up until the beginning of World War I.

During the Civil War and the Railroad Age of the postwar years, Krupp iron was essential to a growing intercontinental economy. Thomas Prosser, and later his sons, got a piece of every dollar that Krupp made in the USA. (more…)

240-hancock-street-060415

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on designating the proposed Bedford Historic District in the next year. The date has not yet been set, but the vote will take place in fiscal year 2016, which starts in July, the head of Community Board 3’s landmarking subcommittee told the assembled crowd at the monthly Community Board 3 meeting Monday night.

The hearing took place in October 2012, and neighborhood activists and preservationists have been waiting for a decision. The proposed district has been in the works for many years, and we have covered the effort extensively. (more…)