62 Joralemon Street, SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Grace Church Reading Room, now co-op apartments
Address: 62 Joralemon Street
Cross Streets: Hicks and Willow Place
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: 1895
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Washington Hull and James Hewlett of Lord, Hewlett & Hull
Other Buildings by Architect: William Clark mansion, Manhattan (demolished), 70th Precinct in Kensington, mausoleums in Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx, and several suburban mansions.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Heights Historic District (1966)

The story: This morning, in my Walkabout column, I began the story of the life and career of Washington Hull, one of Brooklyn’s many forgotten architects. He didn’t design very much in Brooklyn, but he was a part of the large architectural community that was quite busy at the turn of the 20th century. One of his few Brooklyn buildings was this Reading Room, designed for Grace Episcopal Church in Brooklyn Heights. It was designed by Hull, along with one of his partners, James M. Hewlett, of Lord, Hewlett & Hull. The three principles of the company had all worked together at McKim, Mead & White when they decided they had the experience and talent to go out on their own. This was one of their first commissions.

James Hewlett and Washington Hull were both from Brooklyn, and were cheered by the press as representing the borough in the high stakes game of big time architecture. They, along with Austin Lord, were coming down from a second place win in an important competition to design the new Philadelphia Museum of Art. They came back to Brooklyn with a $3,000 consolation prize, and were awarded the design for the Reading Room. (more…)

tom fruin water tower brooklyn heights 122014

Dumbo artist Tom Fruin has installed another sparkling, stained glass sculpture in the shape of a water tower at 334 Furman Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The multicolored structure will be lit up at night and powered by a solar array on the roof of the building, which serves as the offices for Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. The artist said the water tower should be illuminated by next weekend and will stay up for a year.

Fruin installed his first water tower on the roof of Dumbo’s 20 Jay Street two years ago, and it has quickly become an iconic part of the neighborhood’s skyline. Earlier this fall, the sculptor built a stained glass house on the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park as part of Dumbo Arts Festival. The house was originally supposed to remain through March, but the artist told us the park is now letting it stay through September. Click through to see an interior shot of the water tower.

(more…)

90-furman-street-121514

When we last checked in at the construction of the Pierhouse hotel and condo development going up in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the hotel portion at 60 Furman Street had topped out but it looked like the condo part had not yet begun. Now it looks like the condo section, which is closer to Atlantic and appears in the foreground of the photo, at 90 Furman Street, is up to about eight stories, out of a total of 10. Thanks to a reader for the photo.

Pierhouse Coverage [Brownstoner]

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Toll Brothers’ Pierhouse condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park, some of the priciest real estate in Brooklyn of any sort, are more than half sold (in contract, that is) since sales launched in February. Prices are averaging $1,850 per square foot and the developer expects to realize at least $250,000,000 in revenues from the project. It has invested almost $39,000,000 into the development, said executives during an earnings call Wednesday reported by The Real Deal.

The development, designed by Marvel Architects, is still under construction in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and has angered preservationists such as Otis Pearsall and the Brooklyn Heights Association because a three-story rooftop structure housing mechanicals is unexpectedly blocking views of the bridge from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, as we reported in September.

The units have proved so popular prices have increased six times during the two and a half months of sales, said the story. Of the 106 condos, 60 are in contract. Construction is expected to wrap in summer 2015. Toll Brothers plans to eventually sell the hotel portion of the project, which will be a 1 Hotel from Starwood, for about $100,000,000, said the firm’s chief financial officer.

Toll Brothers’ Pierhouse to See Big Payday [TRD]
Rendering by Marvel Architects

jewish delis bhs

Traditional Jewish delis have dwindled in Brooklyn, but Brooklyn Historical Society is inviting three deli owners to discuss how they’ve survived and thrived as the borough has changed around them. Deli historian Ted Merwin will talk about the “the glories, challenges, and traditions of serving up corned beef” with the owners of Junior’s in Downtown Brooklyn, Jay and Lloyd’s Kosher Deli in Sheepshead Bay and Mile End Deli in Boerum Hill. The panel will happen tonight at 6:30 pm at BHS headquarters at 128 Pierrepont Street. Tickets cost $10 or $5 for members.

Image via Brooklyn Historical Society

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Brooklyn Heights Cinema owner Kenn Lowy is still looking for a new space for the theater since the building at 70 Henry Street was sold and it shut down in August, he told Brooklyn Brief. “I need a big location, with good foot traffic, but with a landlord who isn’t only seeing dollar signs, but has an interest in providing the community with a venue for culture. I’m doing everything I can to keep going.”

Lowy bought the theater for sentimental reasons: He grew up watching films there. In the wide-ranging interview, he also said the influential Brooklyn Heights Association had played a large role in the theater’s closing, by opposing proposals to redevelop the property:

The sad thing is that these two plans for buildings were really nice, contextual with the neighborhood, and would have allowed a cinema to stay at the location. But the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) had a lot to do with the plans never being voted upon, which was akin to them being turned down. They felt the building had historical significance, and they fought tooth and nail against any changes. The local Community Board supported us, and some of the local politicians supported us, but others didn’t, not wanting to go against the BHA. The BHA represents a very small contingent of Brooklyn Heights residents, but has a very strong sway.

The interview, which also ran in the Brooklyn Eagle, is definitely worth a read.

Anyone know a suitable venue?

In Conversation: Kenn Lowy on the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, and Future Plans [BK Brief]
Brooklyn Heights Cinema Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Brooklyn Heights Cinema/Facebook

158 hicks street brooklyn heights 122014

Here’s a cute little one-bedroom near the Clark Street station in Brooklyn Heights. It seems like the living room gets good light, and the kitchen area has enough space for a small dining table. From what we can see, the bedroom is just big enough to fit a bed and a small dresser. Clearly the current tenant had to come up with some creative storage solutions (like the racks on the backs of the doors). Do you think it’s worth $2,450 a month?

158 Hicks Street, #14/15 [Corcoran] GMAP

Singsing, ossiningdemocrats.com 1The murder trial of William Hooper Young was set to being in February of 1903. Young was accused of killing a woman named Anna Pulitzer of Manhattan. She was the pretty, 24 year old wife of a man named Joseph Pulitzer. The couple lived in what is now Hell’s Kitchen, on West 47th Street. Anna was known to police as a sometimes prostitute and streetwalker. Her husband was involved with local politics, but didn’t seem to have any other employment.

In spite of that, Anna walked around with diamonds and other jewels, was very well dressed, and was known to love the good life. She picked who she chose to step out with, always wealthy men, and been seen talking to William Young on the street after midnight, the night she disappeared in 1902. Her body washed up on shore in New Jersey several days after her disappearance.

The evidence against Young was strong. He was identified by several witnesses who saw him with Anna, and later, by those who said that he moved a large heavy trunk the night of the murder, and rented a horse and wagon to take that trunk to a pier in New Jersey. When police finally identified him and went into his apartment, they found bloodstained towels in a cupboard also filled with blood. They only needed to find William Young. (more…)

55 pineapple street brooklyn heights 112014

This new co-op listing at 55 Pineapple Street, with its foyer and separate kitchen, has a more generous layout than a typical studio. It’s also got a nice prewar vibe. Unfortunately, it’s also on the ground floor. You can’t have everything! Get a look at the open house this Sunday from 1 to 3 pm. Oh, and the asking price is $315,000.

55 Pineapple Street, #1G [Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP

Mac Levy, Young and Pulitzer, NY Herald, 1902

On a balmy September night in 1902, a beautiful young woman named Anna Pulitzer went out on the town in Manhattan, on the last night of her life. Around midnight, she was seen buying rolls for her husband at an all-night bakery on West 47th Street. She was then seen talking to a young man on the street, and she went off in a cab with him, still carrying the rolls. Two days later, her nude body washed ashore in New Jersey. She had been murdered, and her body had a large cut in the abdomen.

Her husband, Joseph, had been considered a suspect, but was soon cleared. Suspicion went next to the mysterious young man who had ridden away with her into the night. Someone matching his description had also rented a horse and wagon in New Jersey, and had not returned it, the very same night as the murder. The man did return the rig late the next day, but couldn’t pay the overtime fine. He told the stableman that he worked for a local paper, and was good for the payment.

When police took the stableman to the office of the paper, he picked out the young man from a photograph. He was William Hooper Young, once a co-owner of the paper. Young was also the grandson of Mormon leader Brigham Young, and had a very wealthy father who kept a large apartment in Manhattan, near the Plaza Hotel. This was the same area where the West Side cab driver had let Anna Pulitzer and her gentleman friend out. It wasn’t looking good for young Bill Young. (more…)

montague street bid

The Montague Street BID is organizing a bunch of holiday events in Brooklyn Heights this weekend, including a photo op with Santa, a classical concert at St. Ann’s Church and caroling. Grace Chorale of Brooklyn will start the weekend off by leading caroling at 205 and 129 Montague Street on Friday from 5 to 6:30 pm, and there will be holiday gift wrapping at Chocolate Works (110 Montague Street) on Friday from 5 to 8 pm and Saturday from 12 to 7 pm. Meadowlark String Quartet will perform on Saturday at 2 pm in St. Ann’s Church (corner of Henry and Montague Streets), and kids can take their photos with Santa and get a free cup of hot chocolate from 12 to 4 pm at Kiehl’s (124 Montague Street). Head over to Montague Street BID for all the details.

Early 20th Century NYC, Smithsonial Magazine 1

“Professor” Mac Levy, born Max Levy, of Brooklyn, was a self-made man, and one of America’s first fitness entrepreneurs. At the turn of the 20th century, he had made quite a name for himself in New York City and Long Island, and was building his fitness empire, ready to expand to wherever the market led him. As a puny and sickly teenager, he had decided he wouldn’t live that way, and through diet and exercise, especially swimming, calisthenics and weight lifting, he had built himself up into a healthy and strong young man; billed on the vaudeville and speaking circuits as a “young Hercules” and “Brooklyn’s Perfect Man.”

He spent years building up his business by building himself. He was an advocate for healthy living, and coached a curious and eager public through his speaking engagements, vaudeville appearances and through his health clubs. He ran the first gymnasium and health club at the prestigious Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights. He also ran summer health clubs at beach resorts in Babylon, Long Island and at Bath Beach, Brooklyn. Other locations followed, as did books, and a line of fitness equipment.

Chapter One of our story details some of his operations and his early days. Chapter Two continues the story of his career, including the would-be mugging on New Year’s Day, 1897, that propelled him into the limelight as a man who take care of himself, with gusto. But for all of the young Professor’s personal and business successes, none of them could propel his name into the history books like his involvement in one of the most sensational murder cases of the early 20th century. (more…)