07/21/14 3:00pm

396-398 Washington Ave, SB, PS 2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 396-398 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: Lafayette and Greene avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1887
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Adam E. Fischer
Other Buildings by Architect: Row and standalone houses in Brooklyn, German Hospital in Bushwick, apartment hotels, summer homes in Manhattan and Long Island
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill HD (1981)

The story: Adam E. Fischer was a successful architect with offices on Fulton Street, in Brooklyn. He lived in Bushwick. By the late 1880’s he was a member of the Architects Department of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, and was in the company of contemporaries such as George L. Morse, Frank Freeman, Rudolf Daus, Theobald Engelhardt and more. In 1894 he managed to beat out his fellow German-American architects Engelhardt and Daus for the design of the German Hospital in on Stockholm Street in Bushwick.

He was one of the founding members of the New York Society of Architects, a Brooklyn architectural organization, and was the First Vice President of the NYSA between 1918 and 1921. In 1931, Fischer was front page news for the Brooklyn Eagle, as he, Charles Infanger and William Debus, all familiar names to this column, were given medals to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Society. Fischer was also celebrating the 50th year of his practice. Not bad for a man about whom we know little more. (more…)

07/14/14 4:00pm

249 willoughby avenue sisters of mercy clinton hill

The Brooklyn Historical Society is giving visitors a look inside the 150-year-old Sisters of Mercy Convent at 273 Willoughby Avenue in Clinton Hill. The Sisters of Mercy, also known as the Walking Sisters, were forced to close their doors in 2008 after 146 years of sheltering the homeless, raising orphans and nursing the sick. (more…)

07/14/14 1:30pm

331 washington avenue clinton hill 72014

This is the kind of estate condition listing we love: It’s got grand proportions (despite being less than 18 feet wide), Neo Grec details such as incised marble fireplaces, what seems to be a largely untouched floor plan, and even a few of the original built ins and sinks in the passthroughs, according to the listing. No kitchens or baths are shown, and we couldn’t check any HPD history because the site is down.

The brownstone at 331 Washington Avenue traded hands earlier this month from one LLC to another for $1,900,000. It looks like a lovely place, but the new ask is $2,995,000. Last we checked, that was top of the line for a Clinton Hill row house. Are fixer-uppers really going for that much now?

331 Washington Avenue [Corcoran] GMAP

07/03/14 12:57pm

110 clifton place clinton hill 62014

We love the vibe of the apartments at the Ping Pong Factory at 110 Clifton Place. In particular, we dig the round concrete columns and big windows. There’s a second-floor two-bedroom that had been asking $900,000 currently in contract and this fourth-floor unit just hit the market with a price tag of $925,000. How do you think it stacks up against yesterday’s Grand Avenue listing we featured?

110 Clifton Place, #4E [Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP

07/02/14 2:00pm


The owner of Choice Greene, the Clinton Hill grocery store and sandwich shop at 214 Greene Avenue, is transforming the space into a seafood restaurant. There will be a raw bar with oysters, crab rolls, lobster, charcuterie and fancy cheeses, salads, sandwiches and a full bar, according to new neighborhood blog Fort Greene Focus. The space will seat 49 inside and 20 in the backyard, which will sport a wall-mounted herb garden.

Community Board 2 voted in favor of supporting the restaurant’s liquor license application Monday night. Sister businesses include nearby Dough and Choice Market, which will handle all the cooking since 214 Greene lacks adequate ventilation. No word yet on when they plan to open. Above, the shop in February. Are you excited for this?

Raw and Seafood Restaurant Plus Full Bar Planned for Choice Greene Space [Fort Greene Focus]
Changes at Choice Greene [Brownstoner] 

07/02/14 12:55pm

334 grand avenue clinton hill 62014

This listing, a two-bedroom at 334 Grand Avenue, shows a somewhat unusual apartment. Located in the same building as the Corridor Gallery, the 1,300-square-foot condo sports multiple skylights as well as private outdoor space. At $1,299,000, it’s certainly aggressively priced for the neighborhood based on interior square footage.

334 Grand Avenue, #1 [Elliman] GMAP

06/25/14 11:30am


We caught some layers of insulation going onto a new building at 1 Lexington Avenue on the corner of Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill when we passed by earlier this month. According to a new building permit, a three-family, three-story building is planned here. We would have guessed from the look of it that the new building is a school or has more apartments than three.

Previously, this was a ramshackle one-story building that may have been a group of 1920s garages plus a makeshift shed. The property last changed hands for $6,175,000 in 2013. To us, that seems like a pretty high price if the developer is planning only three units. What do you think?


06/20/14 3:00pm

345 Clinton Ave, Clinton Coops, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Flashback Friday: I’m on the road again, so here’s another look at an important set of buildings.

Name: Clinton Hill Houses, now Clinton Hill Co-ops
Address: 345-373 Clinton Avenue
Cross Streets: Lafayette and Greene Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Avenue
Year Built: early 1940s
Architectural Style: Modernist
Architect: Harrison, Fouilhoux & Abramovitz
Other Buildings by Architect: Lincoln Center, Rockefeller Apartments, Time and Life Building, all Manhattan
Landmarked: Yes, part of the Clinton Hill HD (1981)

The story: Most people are familiar with the fact that the government tore down several blocks of late 19th century mansions on Clinton Avenue, in order to build the ten buildings in three locations that make up the Clinton Hill Houses, now the Clinton Hill Co-ops. It was during World War II, and housing was desperately needed for the Navy officers and enlisted men who were based at the nearby United States Navy Yard. The four buildings that make up this part of the Houses, were for officers and their families, and therefore were the most upscale of the entire development.

The Houses were designed by Harrison, Fouilhoux, & Abramovitz, modern architects of their day who were responsible for some of New York City’s iconic mid-century buildings. Wallace Harrison and Max Abramovitz were the architects of Lincoln Center and the Empire State Plaza in Albany. They, and other partners, were also responsible for the Time and Life Building in Midtown, the Rockefeller Apartments, the landmarked Springs Mills Building, as well as the Alcoa Building in Pittsburg, and the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning.

The idea for the officer’s towers was based on Le Corbusier’s concept of an apartment building within a park. The architects gave this project much thought, devising ten story apartment buildings with massing set back to allow the buildings to float better in their park-like setting, with plenty of space between the buildings, landscaped pathways, lawns, and garden space, and the guard and information station positioned in the middle, topped with an ethereal statue of a dancing woman. This kiosk also dances; a very modern spaceship of a building on tapered concrete legs.

The buildings are a big cut above the usual military housing. Casement windows provide light and air, and the apartments themselves are well designed living spaces, with large rooms and good layouts. As a nod to their Navy heritage, all of the entrances to the buildings have mosaic transoms depicting different Navy symbols, such as a winged anchor, or a dolphin, adding some ornament to the very austere facades. When the war was over, the Houses all easily became co-ops, now affordable alternatives in an increasingly expensive housing market. (more…)

06/18/14 3:00pm

14-16 St. James Pl. CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 14-16 St. James Place
Cross Streets: Dekalb and Lafayette avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1882-1886
Architectural Style: Neo-Grec
Architect: James or William Callahan
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill HD (1981)

The story: When you get away from the grand mansions of Clinton and Washington Avenues, and their carriage houses on Waverly and Vanderbilt, Clinton Hill becomes a quiet row house neighborhood, like most of Fort Greene and the western edges of Bedford. A great deal of the housing here was speculative row housing built in the late 1870s to mid-1880s. The two architectural styles that make up those years were the Italianate and Neo-Grec styles. They can both be found on this block. Those styles also made up the blocks across the street, now filled with high rise middle class co-op buildings, and further down, NYCHA housing.

Both the Italianate and Neo-Grec houses have a common root. They were all flat, smooth- faced brownstone, with similar interior configurations. But the invention of the pneumatic drill made it possible for builders to carve the incised ornament of the Neo-Grec facades without the skills of a master stone carver, or the time it took him to work. This enabled developers to build faster and cheaper, and sell more houses.

The Italianates surrounding 14-16 St. James were built around 1875. These three houses were not built until ten years later. Since lots were often sold in groups, often by different owners, it’s quite possible for these lots to have been skipped over, as buildings went up on both sides. When builders James and William Callahan bought the lots, common wisdom would be to build two twenty foot wide houses here. But because that left almost two feet left over, they decided to build three very narrow 13.83 foot houses. Houses of less than 15 feet in width show up a lot in Clinton Hill, so it certainly wasn’t unprecedented. (more…)