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Brownstoner happened across this apparently finished installation by artist Tom Fruin on the top of the former Broken Angel building at 4-8 Downing Street in Clinton Hill. As readers may recall, developer and architect Alex Barrett of Barrett Design, who is converting the building to condos, told Brownstoner in April the piece was in the works.

The condos are still under construction, but sold out in less than a month when they went on the market in April. Longtime Brooklyn residents and Brownstoner readers will recall the sad story of this building, which could be read as a metaphor for the history of Brooklyn in recent years. It has gone from tenement to empty shell to art project to condos, as property values have fluctuated. (more…)

10 Lexington Ave Clinton Hill Apartment Development

An old one-story factory that occupied most of its large lot at 10 Lexington Avenue in Clinton Hill was torn down last year to make way for a five story building with 81 apartments. Construction on the new building started this year, and now the walls are up to the second story, Brownstoner saw on a recent visit.

The apartments will average 683 square feet each, suggesting they will be rentals. A graffiti-covered drawing of the building shows a plain facade with symmetrical windows and balconies. There is no indication of the facade materials. (more…)

410-418 Myrtle Ave, NS, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

A local entrepreneur and developer built these buildings on Clinton Hill’s only commercial corridor, and then put his brother’s bank on the corner lot.

Name: Storefronts with flats above
Address: 410-418 Myrtle Avenue
Cross Streets: Clinton and Vanderbilt Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1887-1888
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: George Walgrove
Other works by architect: 287-293 DeKalb Avenue, Clinton Hill; row houses in Manhattan; several buildings on Riker’s Island
Landmarked: No

A Commercial Hub

This set of storefront and apartment buildings was built on one of Clinton Hill’s busiest corners. The Queen Anne style of architecture was a mixture of materials, shapes and textures, and these buildings fit the bill.

The architect, George Walgrove, mixed brownstone, brick, pressed metal, and terra cotta, with arched Romanesque Revival windows, a nice corner turret and expansive windows on the ground floor commercial spaces.

Built for the Family Bank

John Englis was the son of a Greenpoint shipbuilder. His father’s company built many of the sailing ships that plied the China route. After his father’s death, he and his sons renamed the company John Englis & Sons. They produced some of the finest steam ships that sailed up and down the Hudson River. (more…)

457, 461 Vanderbilt, BeyondMyKen for Wiki Commons 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Carriage houses and other service buildings were as important to the development of a neighborhood as the houses themselves. This is a particularly elegant example.

Name: Former carriage houses
Address:457 and 461 Vanderbilt Avenue
Cross Streets: Gates and Greene Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: between 1880 and 1887
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

Soaring Arches and Room for Horses, Too

These Clinton Hill carriage houses are among my favorite in the neighborhood. It’s too bad we know so little about who built or owned them. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they were designed by one of the well-known architects working in the area. They are really good, especially for service buildings.

First of all, the overall brickwork here is first rate. Late 19th century Brooklyn had excellent bricklayers.

There’s some Rundbogenstil styling going on here — soaring round arches which are typical of this German progenitor of American Romanesque Revival styles. It’s almost ecclesiastical, the arches stretching three stories high, with two upper stories of windows. (more…)

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The 88th Precinct does not have enough resources to fight crime in Clinton Hill, according to pols and police who spoke at a town hall meeting Wednesday convened by Public Advocate (and Clinton Hill resident) Letitia James. Specifically, it has only 112 officers and three or four squad cars to patrol the area at night.

“The 88th precinct is under-resourced,” a story in DNAinfo quoted James as saying at the meeting at Emmanuel Baptist Church, above. “I’ve discovered recently we only have three or four patrol cars to turn out at night. That’s unacceptable.” (more…)

First Nat Bank, Chicago, 1883, officemuseum.com 1

Bryce Arthur Whyte was as English as Queen Victoria. He had a plummy upper-crust sounding name. He was handsome, with a slight blonde mustache and carefree air, well-mannered and, apparently wealthy.

Whyte came to America in 1888, the son of a Liverpool merchant who had made a great deal of money in the East India trade. He decided to make money — so that he wouldn’t be bored, as he told friends — and got connected with the founders of the Wallabout Bank.

When the Bank opened its doors on the corner of Clinton and Myrtle Avenues later that year, Bryce A. Whyte was an assistant clerk, responsible for taking in and recording deposits.

Bankers are not by nature a trusting people. The bank had asked for and received a guarantee of trustworthiness for young Whyte. The Guarantee Corporation of North America, located in Manhattan, put up a $10,000 bond as security for his honesty.

But unbeknownst to everyone in his new American home, all was not well in Whyte’s well-presented life. (more…)

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Prolific Brooklyn developer Brookland Capital has moved into Clinton Hill with an $8,800,000 purchase of St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. What’s next for the former house of worship at 259 Washington Avenue? Condos, of course, according to the Commercial Observer, which first reported the sale.

However, the church is landmarked, according to city records, which could severely limit what Brookland Capital is able to do with the property. The Observer said Brookland Capital plans to restore “part of the exterior” and “extend the building in the back.” (more…)

275 Clinton Ave, Clinton Apts. Composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Joseph Fahys was born in France in 1832. His father died young, and Joseph and his mother immigrated to the United States in 1848, settling in New York. He apprenticed himself to Ulysses Savoye, in Hoboken, one of the first watch case manufacturers in the United States.

He worked for Savoye for five years, learning the business, and then set out on his own. By 1857, he had bought out Savoye, changed the name to Joseph Fahys & Company, and brought the manufacturing business to Nassau Street, in lower Manhattan.

Through different partnerships over the years, the business continued to grow, with watch case plants in New Jersey and Long Island. By the time he and his partners established the Brooklyn Watch Case Company in 1887, Joseph Fahys was a very important and wealthy man. (more…)

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double shooting on Clinton Hill’s Clifton Place the last Sunday of July has raised local concern for what appears to be rising violence in the area. In response to the shootings, Public Advocate Letitia James has called for an emergency meeting on increased gang and gun violence in the neighborhood.

“As I am sure you are aware, our neighborhood has seen an increase in gang and gun violence these past few weeks,” James wrote in an email, inviting community members and concerned parties to the meeting this Wednesday, August 19, at Emmanuel Baptist Church. For James’ full letter, see Brownstoner’s initial writeup on the meeting.

Local feelings of increased violence in the area are backed by statistics showing significantly increased rates of violent crime so far this year. Statistics from the 79th and 88th precincts, which cover the Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, and Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhoods, show that the number of shootings and rapes in the 88th precinct and burglaries in the 79th precinct have surpassed the number in the same period in 2014. (more…)

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After a spate of gun violence in Bed Stuy and Clinton Hill, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James has called for a meeting this week:

“All,
As I am sure you aware, our neighborhood has seen an increase in gang and gun violence these past few weeks. We have felt the pain in our hearts as too many members of our community have been shot and killed by such shootings. This needs to be stopped and needs to be stopped now.

In light of these recent shootings, I am calling an emergency meeting between all levels of government and the community. We cannot stand idly while such wanton acts of violence happen within a community that has so much life. With the help of our local police the 79th and 88th Police Precincts, lead by Deputy Inspector John Chell and Captain Peter Fiorillo, as well as the P.B.B.N. and P.S.A 3, lead by Deputy Chief Jeffrey Maddrey and Captain Peter Fiorillo, I am certain we can work together to find a way to bring a stop to the gang violence that continues to plague our neighbors, our friends, and our families.

But none can fight this alone. We will need to come together, not with blame, but with a proactive solution that we will then work together to achieve. I need your help to make out community safe again. Please join me from 6-​8 ​pm on Wednesday August 19th at 279 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238, the Emmanuel Baptist Church where we can start our work on a path to heal this community.”

(more…)

Clinton Hill Brooklyn 536-540 Clinton Ave

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

This row of three Neo-Grec row houses is unique in all of New York City. There used to be four, and they were made of an old material that was making a new comeback in 1870s America.

Name: Row houses
Address: 536-540 Clinton Avenue
Cross Streets: Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1872
Architectural Style: French Neo-Grec with Second Empire mansard roofs
Architect: A. S. Barnes
Landmarked: No, but really, really should be

Landmark-worthy material
This group of three houses — originally four — were built in 1872 by A. S. Barnes, who is credited for the design. They are basically Neo-Grec in style, with some important differences. Barnes added mansard roofs and two asymmetrical top floor dormers, as well as two-story, three sided bays.

All of the doors and windows are framed with substantial lintels and framed with decorative incised ornament. The cast iron railings on the remaining buildings are original. As can be seen in the illustration below, the houses also once had cast iron cresting on the roof.

If that was all there was to these houses, they’d still be exceedingly fine. The detail work on this group is first rate.

But what makes them special — and should make them landmark-worthy — is the basic building material. These houses are not painted brownstone, sandstone, or limestone. They are made of Béton Coignet cast stone – concrete. (more…)

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Following a shooting incident over the weekend, a reader sent Brownstoner this open letter to the Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, New York City Public Advocate Tish James and the 88th Police Precinct about ongoing problems with drug dealing and violence on Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill. Thompson and James live nearby, as she points out in the letter; Brownstoner has been writing about crime on this stretch for years. In her letter, she listed the addresses of buildings and license plates of cars she believes is associated with the problems. Brownstoner has deleted these from the letter for legal reasons. Here is what she said:

“Violent Crime Haven at Clifton/Grand

In light of the recent murder and shootings, I am writing in regard to
the frightening, pervasive and constant illegal activity and violence
along Grand Avenue, specifically at the corner of Clifton Place. The
drug trade here is vibrant, enthusiastic, defiant and unchecked. This
is an absolute slap in the face to the neighborhood. It’s Hamsterdam
from The Wire – brazen illegal activity of every kind conducted with
impunity. All of the players seem confident that they can operate with
no consequences. 88th Precinct, what are you doing? (more…)