The Afropunk Fest is always great for people watching, and this past weekend’s 10th annual extravaganza was no exception.

For the first time, the celebration of alternative black culture charged admission — $40 for a single day pass, $70 for the full weekend — but that didn’t stop festival goers from dressing their best and dancing the weekend away to a star studded lineup in Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park.

Below, a few inspiring tweets from the festival:



Reader Jeff Edwards wants you to take his bricks:

We are looking to donate about 1,800 antique red bricks that comprised the original rear wall of our 1853 Italianate townhouse on Cumberland Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. They would be ideal to resurface a garden wall or build a flower bed. Please reach out to me if you are interested. First come first served.

Update: Jeff just got in touch to say he got “tons of responses” and the bricks have found a new home. If you have a neighborhood or home-related announcement, send it to

7-11 S. Portland Ave, SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

This double-sized, semi-detached mansion is one of the few remaining in Fort Greene. For all its one-time splendor, it didn’t remain a single family home for long.

Name: Abram Quereau mansion
Address: 7-11 South Portland Avenue
Cross Streets: DeKalb and Lafayette avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1876
Architectural Style: Transitional French Empire/Neo-Grec
Architect: Horace Moody (builder)
Other buildings by architect: Moody also built the mansion next door, at 1 South Portland Avenue
Landmarked:  Yes, part of Fort Greene Historic District (1978)

Neo-Grec Body With Grand French Flair
This large 30 foot wide brownstone mansion was built in the popular French Empire style, with a tall mansard roof. This was paired with a Neo-Grec body, very similar to the neighboring row houses. The entryway is also similar to neighboring houses, so much so that if one is not paying attention, it’s easy to miss how large and grand this house really is.

Considering the size of the house, the lot is actually not that big, with only a side lot, and no back yard, as a rear extension on the house widens the back, allowing for extra light and extra room. Large quoins decorate the open side, with the motif repeated in the full width extension.

The parlor floor features full length windows. All of the windows have pediments or hoods supported by paired brackets. The center entryway has a round arched entryway with a large hooded pediment supported by incised Neo-Grec brackets. The house also has its original railings and newel posts. (more…)


A Fort Greene warm-weather music staple, the Fort Greene Park Jazz Festival returns to Fort Greene Park Saturday, September 12.

The free event, now in its sixth year, features nonstop jazz by local musicians and singers from 3 pm. to 7 p.m. It happens twice a year, once in July and once in September.

The festival was started by Fort Greene resident and musician Eric Frazier. Raised in Brooklyn, Frazier — who studied Conga Drum and African Dance — performs jazz and world music throughout the New York area at venues including Madison Square Garden and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Every year he brings the music back to Fort Greene for Jazz Fest. (more…)

1 Hanson Place #14A-Living-Dining Room-NYC

Today’s condo is at 1 Hanson Place, aka the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building, aka the clock tower that looms over the Brooklyn skyline. The building is home to some seriously luxe, big-ticket units — this isn’t one of them, but it’s still quite a nice one-bedroom, on the 14th floor.

There’s a nice view from up there, to be spied through the two good-sized windows in the good-sized living room. The ceilings are high, the floors are a nice dark walnut. The kitchen is sleek and attractive, with Viking appliances, a Lavastone counter and lacquered cabinets. (more…)

JHID_FuLL_Res_Lafayette_Brooklyn-9“These clients were not afraid of color. They kept saying, ‘More!'” recalled Chelsie Lee, project manager for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design (JHID). The Portland, Oregon-based firm had been hired to furnish a young couple’s newly purchased 20’x45′ brick row house in Fort Greene.

The building had recently been gut-renovated by the Brooklyn Home Company, with a new two-story extension on the back and a new interior staircase.

“We did a little light remodeling, like adding doors to the built-in cabinetry in the dining room to make it symmetrical,” said Lee, but the designers’ mandate was to realize the vision of the new homeowners: décor that was bold and playful. (more…)

Cumberland St. Hospital, composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

As much as Brooklyn has changed and improved over the last 200 years, one thing has not changed for the better — the number of health care facilities.

In Brooklyn’s prime as an independent city, during the last two decades of the 19th century, the city was filled with all kinds of hospitals, sanitariums, clinics and dispensaries, both public and private. Today, only a handful remain.

Those who were well off enough to have private medical care could always depend on a doctor’s house call, or a visit to his practice. Most of Brooklyn’s doctors could be called upon in emergencies, but there were very few hospitals and very few hospital beds.

The poor had to rely on the charity of individual doctors, or their services in a small number of charitably run dispensaries — clinics that took care of basic medical needs, emergency operations, and dispensed medicines at low or no cost.

City government didn’t address the needs of the poor until a growing awareness of public health opened their eyes. It took a lack of hospital beds for such random emergencies as traffic accidents to help even the most jaded and tight-fisted realize that more needed to be done for the public good. (more…)

137-149 Lafayette Ave, SB, PS 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Altered row houses
Address: 137-147 Lafayette Avenue
Cross Streets: Cumberland Street and Carlton Avenue
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: Original buildings, 1860s; major alterations, 1934
Architectural Style: Originally Italianate, now Colonial Revival
Architect: Unknown; 1934 alterations, Horace B. Mann
Other works by architect: With partner Perry R. McNeille: “Kinko” houses in Crown Heights North and Park Slope, suburban houses in New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester and the Fieldston Historic District in the Bronx
Landmarked: Yes, part of Fort Greene Historic District (1978)

The story: How times and fashions change! When the row houses of Fort Greene were built, primarily in the 1860s and ‘70s, a single-family house was seen as the optimal family home. But 80 years later, things had changed.

Apartments were the new homes of choice. But the lack of available land for new buildings, and a paucity of available funds during the middle years of the Great Depression, meant that developers needed to get creative in order to meet that need.

The front page of the Brooklyn Eagle’s real estate section on Sunday, September 23, 1934, featured extensive coverage of a project that was midway to completion on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene. (more…)


Developers are moving to transform a lowly Fort Greene lot. Just as their first Brooklyn building begins to rise at 250 Ashland Place, the father-son duo running Gotham Organization snapped up a coveted parking lot a mere two blocks away. For $5,500,000.

Located at 130 St Felix Street, the lot is steps from Atlantic Terminal, wedged between a BAM theater and the iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower. Naturally, we’re predicting condos.

The seller was the sponsor of the condo building next door at 1 Hanson Place, Canyon Johnson Urban Funds. The sponsor and the condo association of 1 Hanson Place negotiated an easement on the lot, used for parking, more than a year ago, according to public records.

A building with 75,114 square feet is permitted, according to PropertyShark. However, there may be trouble in developer paradise. (more…)

293-299 Cumberland St. SSpellen 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Wood-framed row houses
Address: 293-299 Cumberland Street
Cross Streets: Lafayette and Greene avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1853
Architectural Style: Greek Revival, with alterations
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes, part of Fort Greene Historic District (1978)

The story: The Greek Revival style of architecture began to grow in popularity in the United States in the 1820s. By the 1830s and ’40s, the features we most readily associate with the style — the white temple-style buildings, the columns and the pediments — had been blueprinted in architectural style books.

These books became the guides that thousands of American builders, both known and unknown, used as the basis for their own designs. Greek Revival vernacular buildings became common from the Ohio Valley to New England, throughout the Mid-Atlantic states, and throughout the South.

This particular group nestled here on Cumberland Street is actually two pairs of attached row houses. Their presence is quite wonderful and unexpected in a neighborhood predominated by brownstone row houses. (more…)

54 Greene Ave, SB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row house
Address: 54 Greene Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Adelphi Avenue
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1868
Architectural Style: Italianate (once)
Architect: Thomas Skelly (builder)
Landmarked: Yes, part of Fort Greene Historic District (1978)

The story: Most of Fort Greene was developed in the busy years just after the Civil War. Brooklyn’s population soared due to manufacturing and business growth. The population began to spread eastward from Brooklyn Heights, aided by better roads and public transportation.

Small developer/builders such as Thomas Skelly bought as many lots as they could in Fort Greene, and built hundreds of row houses, most in some variation of the popular Italianate style.

Skelly built all ten houses on this side of the block, between Adelphi and Clermont. He built them in two groups; numbers 54-66 were built in 1868. Their stoops and doorways were built on the left. Numbers 68-72 were built in 1869, and their stoops and doorways are on the right.

All of the houses in this group survived the century and a half pretty much intact, except today’s house, number 54. (more…)

WELCOME TO THE INSIDER, Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design or renovation project, written and produced by Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday at 11.


WHERE MOST PEOPLE SEE A WRECK, architects see glorious opportunity. So said Elizabeth Roberts, founding principal of Gowanus-based Ensemble Architecture, of this four-story brick row house whose new owners are a young family late of SoHo.

“The house was in really bad shape,” said Roberts of the neglected 20-by-36-foot structure, into which the architects managed to fit four bedrooms, a study, three full baths and two half baths.  “It had been vacant, water had been leaking for a few years, and the rear wall was falling down. The opportunity was there for opening it up a lot, and putting on a two-story addition.”

That 13-foot-deep addition was the project’s boldest stroke. Now, the new garden-level kitchen, as well as the back parlor on the floor above, open into a two-story volume containing a high-ceilinged dining space. (more…)