Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row houses
Address: 394-416 Park Place
Cross Streets: Underhill and Washington avenues
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
Year Built: 1894
Architectural Style: Romanesque and Renaissance Revival
Architect: Dahlander & Hedman
Other works by architect: Other groups of row houses on nearby Sterling Place, Prospect Place and Park Place developed by Reynolds, also Bedford, Stuyvesant Heights, Park Slope, Crown Heights North
Landmarked: Yes, part of Prospect Heights HD (2009)
The story: I love all of Brooklyn’s row house housing stock, from the earliest clapboard houses to the late 1920s bungalows, but if you had to pin me down for my favorites, these would be on the list. There is just such delicate and exquisite beauty here. Two of the best architects in the business, Magnus Dahlander and Axel Hedman, like the artists they were, used a combination of mixed media here to create delight. If I lived on this block, or had to walk down it frequently, these houses would put a smile on my face, even if only for a fleeting moment. They are that good. Let’s look at why:
There are twelve houses in this group, some three stories, some four. Dahlander and Hedman randomly alternate them down the row, sometime two larger houses, followed by four smaller houses, sometimes only two, or one. The result is that your eye is encouraged to move down the row, never lulled into sameness; there is a dance here. Yet they are all related and of the same design mindset. There are seven different facades. Some of them repeat once, some don’t. There are Romanesque Revival houses next to Renaissance Revival houses. All of them have beautiful sandstone fronts, but they used different shades of sandstone. And then there is the ornament.
Carved sandstone ornament abounds, and it varies from house to house. All kinds of classical and Renaissance motifs are utilized: garlands, pilasters and capitals, cartouches, Green men and grotesque faces, animals, floral patterns, and lots of Byzantine leaf work, which winds itself throughout each the row of houses. There’s even a pair of six pointed stars. Are these stars of David? Or just more ornament designed for its visual appeal, the real meaning of the figures and symbols lost to the ages? (more…)