Sukkot Brooklyn

The joyful Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot began Sunday evening, and Sukkot have been popping up around Brooklyn for a few weeks now.

The little outdoor huts are temporary dwellings observers often sleep and eat in during the weeklong holiday. They are meant to celebrate the fall harvest. The holiday also commemorates the 40 years Jews wandered in the desert after receiving the Torah.


Park Slope Brooklyn History 1915 Edward Reiss

Edward Reiss was a larger-than-life Brooklyn character in the early 20th century who often took matters into his own hands when a situation wasn’t to his liking. Our story today concerns his use of a racist power play to get his way in a feud with a developer.

Reiss was the owner of the Marine Wrecking Company, a very successful salvage company that plied the waters around New York City and the surrounding states, towing in damaged and abandoned craft, and salvaging underwater wrecks.

His name was frequently in the papers after 1910 for his yachting activities. A member of the Park Slope Civic Association, he was one of the Slope’s most aggressive and ardent boosters. When his plans to erect a statue in the area didn’t come to fruition, he was disappointed, but by 1915 he had more immediate problems. A developer was building a six-story apartment building right next door to him.

Edward Reiss and His Neighborhood

Reiss and his wife Jennie lived on the upper edges of Park Slope, in a rather modest row house at 461 15th Street. They were the first owners of this house, which was the lead in a group of four two-family houses built by architect Benjamin F. Hudson and developer Morris Levy in 1909.

The papers referred to the house as a “mansion in a highly desirable neighborhood,” which suggests Reiss may have made some serious upgrades to the home. But after four years of domestic bliss, the building became ground zero for a major feud. (more…)

Studio Apartment Interior Design In Park Slope

Japanese author Marie Kondo, famed for her “If it doesn’t spark joy, throw it out” manifesto, has nothing on Ilene Rosen. “She’s preaching to the converted,” said Rosen, who lives with her husband Mark Sherry, a pharmacologist, in a 510-square-foot studio overlooking Grand Army Plaza. “For me, the joy is not having stuff around, being able to see a long swath of kitchen counter with nothing on it, or a lot of empty floor space.”

The couple bought their apartment — one large square room with a galley kitchen and a bathroom behind a sliding barn door — a little over a year ago, downsizing from a two-bedroom, two-bath duplex in the neighborhood. “The children are clearly not coming back,” said Rosen, a partner in R&D Foods, the gourmet grocery and takeout shop on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights. “It seemed like the right time to downsize.” (Her 21-year-old twin daughters have their own apartments, and their dad’s Manhattan pad to sleep in if they choose.) (more…)

No single-families among this week’s picks — two come with multiple rental units, while the other two have a single one each. They’re include a Park Slope limestone, a pair of Bed Stuy brownstones and an aluminum-sided job in Bushwick.

At 435 Classon Avenue in Bed Stuy (right on the Clinton Hill border) we’ve got a newly renovated four-story — in fact it’s so newly renovated that the work is still in progress. You’ll find a four-bedroom owner’s triplex sitting over a garden rental, a “1 bed/1 bath unit that with easy rent ability,” per the listing. (more…)

Brownstone Interior Decorating In Park Slope

Intact original woodwork may top the “want” list for Brooklyn house-hunters, but once they get it, it can be a challenge for modern folks to work around. The elaborately carved moldings and doors in this late Victorian brownstone — shades of classical revival and Aesthetic Movement, with a helping of gingerbread thrown in — were in superb condition when a couple in the education field, parents of a young son, acquired the four-story, one-family house.

Though the new homeowners certainly appreciated what they had, they still wanted the décor to have a contemporary feeling. Right away, they called upon Brooklyn Heights designer Kathryn Scott to furnish the house in its entirety (they kept only a couple of chairs and some artwork from their previous home).“We gravitated toward simplicity to neutralize the ornate detail,” Scott said. At the same time, by choosing pale wall colors and pared-down, clean-lined furnishings, “we brought out the beauty of the detail by diminishing other distractions that would compete.” (more…)

Park Slope Brooklyn 515 4 Ave PS 124

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Last week we featured some of the great C.B.J. Snyder’s Brooklyn schools. There are a lot of them, and here’s one more great addition to the Brooklyn streetscape.

Name: Public School 124, Silas B. Dutcher School
Address: 515 4th Avenue
Cross Streets: 13th and 14th Street
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1899-1900
Architectural Style: Beaux-Arts
Landmarked: No

This beautiful Beaux-Arts-style elementary school is just one many built by C.B.J. Snyder, the Supervisor of School Buildings for the City of New York. It one of his earliest Brooklyn schools, planned a year after Brooklyn became part of Greater New York City in 1898.

As we posted last week, Snyder revolutionized school building with his H-shaped schools. This is not one of them; instead it’s a massive old-style rectangular school, built on a block-wide lot with lots of room around it for maximum use of windows on all four sides.

Snyder was well aware of the impact a handsome, well-built school had on a community. The 1893 Chicago World’s Exhibition had introduced the nation to the Beaux-Arts style — an ornate, classically inspired French Baroque style that lent itself well to public buildings of all kinds. (more…)

Park Slope Condo Permit 11 Story Building 4th Ave

One man’s auto shop is another man’s luxury tower. A permit was filed Wednesday to erect an 11-story apartment building in Park Slope at 243 and 245 4th Avenue, in place of two existing single story auto repair shops. A combined 60-foot-wide lot, the properties were purchased for a total of $9,900,000 in June, YIMBY reported.

Karl Fischer is the architect and Hosea, or Haysha, Deitsch is the developer. The 118-foot-tall residential structure-to-be will have 16 apartments as well as ground floor commercial space and a small community facility. The permit specifies there will be 32,021 square feet of commercial space and only 3,171 square feet of residential, but this is likely a mistake and YIMBY says it’s the opposite.


Ortner Preservation Awards 2015

The Park Slope Civic Council has put out a call for applications for the second annual Evelyn and Everett Ortner Park Slope Preservation Awards, which honor local projects compatible with the neighborhood’s architecture and efforts to preserve the area’s historic character.

Awards will be given in categories such as exterior restoration, adaptive reuse, storefront design and more. All projects must have been completed between January 1, 2010 and September 1, 2015, and applications are due November 2. (more…)

brownstone kitchen renovation

A few years back, when this 1910 limestone on an elegant park block changed hands, the house was in such a state of preservation that it still retained at least one working gaslight and a winding back stair, once used by service staff, from the kitchen on the parlor level to the floor below. That kitchen, in a two-story extension at the back of the house, needed radical updating. The lower level, where the laundry was, was full of exposed pipes and particularly uninviting.

Enter Gerry Smith, a residential architect based in Greenpoint. Smith was once, in his own words, “a diehard modernist,” but lately, he said, with more projects in brownstone Brooklyn, “I’m becoming very interested in modern insertions into a historical shell.”

As a friend of the new homeowners, Smith agreed to take on the job of revamping the whole extension. Working with Dean and Silva, a Brooklyn-based general contractor with an in-house millwork shop, he managed to keep considerable old-fashioned charm while bringing the space functionally up to date and linking it with the utility quarters below. The new space, now bathed in natural daylight, offers views of the garden that’s shared with the house next door.



The condo at hand is a two-bedroom number in a five-year-old, three-unit building at 481 18th Street in the South Slope. Modern and minimalist, it’s on the market for $1,080,000, listed by Stribling brokers Dena Driver and Julie Greenspon.

To lead with the negative, that address overlooks the Prospect Expressway. If you want to look on the bright side that means no houses blocking light across the street, but you’d better be okay with the sights and sounds of high-speed traffic.

The place itself is cool and clean-lined, with some interesting finishes, beginning with the mod, angular concrete facade. It’s got two bedrooms and two baths in the rear (i.e., away from traffic noise), with a small balcony off one of the bedrooms. (more…)


Clockwise from top left: Pavilion Theater and renderings of the proposed redesign via Hidrock Realty, photo by Nitehawk

Its redesign might not be a blockbuster hit, but Park Slope’s Pavilion Theater at 188 Prospect Park West has already caught the eye of a hip Williamsburg Cinema operator, reported DNAinfo. Matthew Viragh, owner of Nitehawk Cinema on Metropolitan Avenue, told DNA he’d like to take over the Pavilion once its renovation is complete.

Nitehawk is known for its hipster atmosphere and for serving cocktails and dinner during films. Nitehawk would be a catch for the Pavilion — in previous years, the theater was plagued by complaints of trash, poor heating and bedbugs.