Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row house
Address: 291 Cumberland Street
Cross Streets: Lafayette and Greene Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1892
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Parfitt Brothers
Other Buildings by Architect: St. Augustine RC Church, Grace Methodist and row houses in Park Slope, apartment buildings, office buildings, row houses, churches in Bedford Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights, Crown Heights North and Brooklyn Heights.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Fort Greene HD (1978)
The story: This house is the architectural equivalent of “pimp my ride,” or I suppose a better word might be “McMansioning.” Only this time, our 19th century poseur hired one of the best firms in Brooklyn to do the deed. Is it grossly inappropriate to celebrate a house that is clearly out of context, or does the resume of the architect make this just hunky-dory? How come it’s perfectly great to celebrate this, and then turn around and damn those who do it today? What’s the difference of a hundred years? Well, taste and talent, for one thing.
Ok, if I were around back then, and this was going to happen, I probably wouldn’t be a champion. The row of vernacular wood framed houses on this block is great. There are several different styles here, by several different builders, and to the right and the left of 291 Cumberland, these are very nice clapboard houses. What’s not to like? Wide generous porches, Classical style columns and capitals, the once-high stoops on 293 and its neighbors, and gracious proportions. 291 Cumberland was also one of these; an 1850s clapboard vernacular house. (more…)