417 Grand Avenue1

This unusual Clinton Hill house at 417 Grand Avenue is Colonial Revival and dates from 1909. It is part of a group of three designed by John J. Petit of Kirby, Petit & Greene, who is well known for his Japanese, Swiss, Spanish Colonial and other themed houses in Prospect Park South.

The landmarked house is very grand on the inside, with impressive proportions and a combination of Renaissance Revival and Colonial Revival details. It is 25 by 70 feet wide with five stories, according to PropertyShark, which would put the whole thing at 8,750 square feet. In fact, the listing calls the building “The Grandeur,” which seems fitting.

Unfortunately, there are not many photos and no floor plan. Although it’s been a two-family since 1975, it was chopped into 14 units in 1953, according to the certificates of occupancy. There are amazing details in the photos of the rooms shown, but it looks like it probably needs a lot of work.

We see herringbone floors and a near-original kitchen with impressive cabinetry and subway tile walls. There are six fireplaces and six bathrooms, plus plenty of fancy wood work, paneling and columns.

It was a Building of the Day last year and, incidentally, the site of a drug raid that same week, according to our own report at the time. The listing suggests it would work well as rentals or condos.

It last sold in January to an LLC for $2,500,000. Now the asking price is $3,999,000. What do you make of it? Has anyone seen this place in person?

417 Grand Avenue [Corcoran] GMAP
Photos by Corcoran (more…)


The eight condos in the former Broken Angel building at 4 Downing Street in Clinton Hill sold out in less than a month. Listings for the remaining two units in the development, both in a new townhouse under construction next to the former Broken Angel tenement at 8 Downing Street, have been taken down and will go back on the market in the fall, “when they are closer to completion,” according to an email update we received from developer and architect Barrett Design.

As you may recall, we were the first to tour and photograph the development at the former art project and neighborhood landmark, whose long, sad history we have been reporting on for 10 years, since this blog was founded. The eight units under construction in the existing tenement building sold out extremely quickly. (more…)

181 St. James1

This architecturally significant house at 181 St. James Place in Clinton Hill impresses inside and out with its unique facade and abundance of late 19th century detail inside. Part of a row of three, it was designed in 1892 by architect William Tubby for Charles Pratt’s Morris Building Company.

The LPC designation report calls it a mix of Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne, but we think neo-Jacobean better explains the mix of Flemish gables at the top and bay windows below. It’s only 17 feet wide, but it’s a single family house with a center stair, so the rooms aren’t narrow.

The details are relatively modern in their simplicity, anticipating the American Arts and Crafts style of the early 20th century. They don’t look like standard forms out of the builder’s catalog, and also have Queen Anne and Jacobean elements, such as the upper paneling on the mantel in the front parlor.

The layout looks more or less original, with the kitchen on the ground floor, although the rear parlor is used as a dining room, with a butler’s pantry off it. There are five decorative mantels, original wood work and stained glass.

A bath looks renovated but classic, in a circa-1900 style with white subway tile and a claw foot tub. The mechanicals have been updated but the house needs some maintenance, according to the listing.

It was a Building of the Day in 2007. What do you think of the house and its ask of $2,545,000?

181 St. James Place [Elliman] GMAP
Photos by Douglas Elliman



NYC Housing Connect is now accepting affordable housing applications for the new building finishing up at 490 Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill. As you may recall, this is where the Associated Supermarket used to be, between Hall and Emerson.

Affordable units make up 20 percent of the seven-story, 93-unit building. The 19 affordable units start at $816 a month for a studio. (more…)

395 Washington Ave, NS, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Free-standing mansion
Address: 395 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Greene Avenue
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1872
Architectural Style: Second Empire
Architect: Thomas Norris
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill Historic District (1981)

The story: This handsome Second Empire brick mansion has a commanding spot here on the corner of Washington and Greene Avenues. It’s also one of a small number of surviving free-standing homes on this important street in Clinton Hill.

The three story house was built in the early 1870s. A newspaper ad in 1872 mentions this address. It was probably built for the family of Freeborn G. Smith, one of the great characters of 19th century Brooklyn.

Freeborn Smith was a wealthy piano manufacturer. He was born in Baltimore, where he started his career, apprenticed to a piano maker. He quickly learned piano construction, and rose to become a master. Baltimore wasn’t able to help him rise any further, so he came to New York City. (more…)


We found a drawing on the fence showing the unusual-looking 48-unit condo building going in at 502 Waverly Avenue near Fulton Street in Clinton Hill. Workers were digging the foundation when we passed by.

A previously published rendering, below, shows a glassy facade with a Deco-style curved edge and a color-blocked gray and white facade consisting of narrow divisions between the large expanses of glass. It looks more like an office building than residential, to our way of thinking. In any case, we expect potential buyers will be happy to see more condos (as opposed to rentals) going up in the area.  (more…)


Forget the renderings. The condos at 4 Downing Street, in the building formerly known as the Broken Angel, are very beautiful in person.

The design and finishes are restrained, carefully considered, and meticulously constructed. We toured one finished model apartment as well as several others under construction Thursday.

A few artifacts from Arthur Wood’s Broken Angel remain. (more…)


Salvation Army is selling off another Brooklyn building. The former warehouse and stable at 22 Quincy Street is in contract as of yesterday, for an amount around $30,000,000, we hear. The ask was about that, and there were multiple bidders.

As far as we know, it is an off-market transaction. The buyer was not revealed.

Given the price, it will likely be made over into a residential building, our source speculated, despite its enormous footprint and relative lack of windows. The building is 70,158 square feet and is over FAR, so demolition is unlikely. It is not landmarked. (more…)


Listings went up Monday for six units on the site of what was formerly Broken Angel, the otherworldly art project that was once a well-known Clinton Hill landmark. Developed by Barrett Design, the property at 4-8 Downing Street contains 10 units altogether in a 19th century former tenement building and an under-construction new two-family townhouse.

The six apartments range in price from $1,125,000 for a two-bedroom, two bath to a three-bedroom, two-plus bath for $2,375,000. Renderings and floor plans show spacious units with modern finishes inside and views. Bathrooms in the four-story 19th century building have “original architectural details,” according to the listings.

There are Bosch appliances, white oak floors, an elevator, common roof deck with views of Manhattan. Some units also have private outdoor space.

The least expensive unit, No. 1B on the ground floor, is priced at $847 a square foot with 1,888 square feet total and common charges of $498 a month. The units are still under construction. The apartment building is scheduled to wrap this summer and the townhouse this fall.

Click through for renderings and floor plans. What do you think of the design and prices?

4-8 Downing Street Listings [Compass]
4Downing [Official]
Broken Angel Coverage [Brownstoner]
Renderings via Compass


1016 Fulton St. SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Irving Theater, now St. John Fire Baptized Holiness Church of God
Address: 1016 Fulton Street
Cross Streets: Grand and Classon avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1912
Architectural Style: Vaguely neo-Classical
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: This is the final building in my little mini-series of buildings on this particular block of Fulton Street on the Clinton Hill/Bed Stuy border. This part of town is undergoing rapid change, Big Change, as in large construction, so I thought before everything is swept away, we’d look at what we are losing. It turns out it’s pretty interesting.

Yesterday’s BOTD, the former Brooklyn Union Gas Building, and this former theater were once part of a large estate, one of two on this block in the mid-19th century. The other estate became the land now used for Crispus Attucks Park, and I definitely want to find out more about that one.

I haven’t yet tracked down the original owner of this estate, which originally covered about 20 lots; 10 on Fulton, and 10 on Lefferts Place. I hope I can find a photograph or drawing, too. But whatever its provenance, by 1889, it was home to the Brooklyn Training School and Home for Young Girls. (more…)

1024 Fulton St. BUG CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Brooklyn Union Gas Showroom
Address: 1024 Fulton Street
Cross Streets: Grand and Classon Avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1912
Architectural Style: Early 20th century warehouse
Architect: Unnamed staff architect at Brooklyn Union Gas
Landmarked: No

The story: Brooklyn Union Gas was organized in the last decade of the 19th century, the merger of seven of the largest gas companies operating in Brooklyn. The new company was incorporated in 1895, and James Jourdan, a former military officer was named the president.

By 1910, business was booming, and they needed a much larger headquarters. The Frank Freeman designed Brooklyn Union Gas Building was completed at 176 Remsen Street in 1912.

About the same time, James H. Jourdan, the son of the first president, and now current president, realized that the utility’s greatest growth was in getting new customers for domestic as well as industrial gas use. People needed to see what gas could do. The company began partnering with appliance companies and industrial manufacturers to develop new gas-powered gadgets, appliances and machinery. (more…)