720 Wash Ave, Natl theater, Ken Roe, Cinema Treasures 1

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former National Theatre, now supermarket
Address: 720 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: Prospect and Park Places
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
Year Built: 1921
Architectural Style: Unable to determine
Architect: Charles Sandblom
Other Buildings by Architect: Over 42 theaters mostly in Brooklyn, but also in Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan
Landmarked: No

The story:
Brooklyn is littered with former theaters. Any neighborhood worth its salt had at least three of four theaters in its history, and larger neighborhoods had many more. Everyone went to the local theater; there was something affordable to almost everyone, and something for almost everyone’s taste. When movies replaced live theater and vaudeville, many of the smaller theaters closed and were converted to other use, but there was still at least one decent sized movie theater around. Where else could parents safely get rid of their kids for a couple of hours?

When neighborhoods could no longer support a movie theater, for whatever reason, it seems that they generally become one of two sorts of places – a church or a supermarket. Many of the former theaters I feature here are generally churches, but here’s one that became a supermarket. Most people using it, or walking by have no idea what the building’s original use was. (more…)

135 eastern parkway prospect heights 22015

Here’s a new listing we don’t think will take very long to sell: A two-bedroom on the top floor of Turner Towers. There are two good-sized bedrooms and two full bathrooms in addition to a living room, kitchen and foyer. The prewar bones are there too, as are the awesome views. The maintenance is $1,536 a month and the asking price is $1,100,000. No exact square footage is given but we’re guesstimating it comes out to about $1,000 a square foot.

135 Eastern Parkway, #15D [Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP


The restored facade of the long-suffering wood frame house at 580 Carlton Avenue, one of the oldest in the Prospect Heights, can now be seen above the construction fence. “580 Carlton has a new facade! And dare I say, it looks pretty nice!” said Cara Greenberg of CasaCARA, who sent us this photo.

Longtime readers may recall the ups and downs at this landmarked property, whose renovation caused the partial collapse of the landmarked twin house next door. By the end of 2012, No. 580 had been reduced to merely a facade, like a movie set. At some point, architect Rachel Frankel, known her ability to create historically correct looking new buildings, got on board, and is now handling the Landmarks-approved restoration of both properties.

Way back when 580 Carlton was for sale in 2011, Cara toured the open house, and had to sign a waiver before entering. It had beautiful mantels and original windows and doors. You can see all the details on her blog here. Let’s hope the owners were able to salvage something to use in the rebuild.

How do you like the way the facade is looking so far?

580 Carlton Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Cara Greenberg

Mount Prospect Lab, Underhill at Park Pl,  Composite

A look at Brooklyn, then and now.

There are a lot of everyday things we take for granted, living in the greatest city in the world, and one of them is the assurance that when we go to the sink and turn the tap, we’ll be getting clear, pure water. As you probably know, today New York City’s water comes from the upstate reservoirs of the Catskills and the Delaware River basin. It’s arguably the best municipal water system in the world.

For Manhattanites, that system began in the mid-19th century with the creation of the Croton Aqueduct. That was a remarkable feat of engineering that brought water into reservoirs in Manhattan. It was upgraded in the late 19th century with a second aqueduct. During those years, that was Manhattan’s water. Since Brooklyn was still an independent city at the time, we needed to get our own water.

Brooklyn is part of Long Island, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the city’s earliest water supply came from further out on the island. The water was pumped in underground and collected in a reservoir on the Brooklyn /Queens border, atop what is now Highland Park. That was the Ridgewood Reservoir, and was first established in the early 1850s. The city still needed a more local reservoir to supply the western part of the city, so in 1856, they began constructing a reservoir on the second highest plateau in Brooklyn – Mount Prospect. (more…)


On Super Bowl Sunday, just before the game started, we stopped by Pequeña for dinner, thinking it would be easy to get a table since, as far as we could remember, the restaurant didn’t have a tv. It was closed.

We figured it was a one-time deal because of the game. But then we read in DNAinfo yesterday it went out of business because of a change in partnership and decrease in customers. The space at 601 Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights will become a Korean restaurant. There are no plans to close the original location, at 86 South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, according to DNA.

We really liked the margaritas and enchiladas — and the elbow room – at this location and will miss it.

Curiously, this is not the first restaurant owner and actress Chelsea Altman has shuttered recently. Maggie Brown in Clinton Hill shut down last month, as we reported at the time. Altman also owns Olea and Allswell, according to Brooklyn Magazine, and used to own now-closed Moe’s Bar in Fort Greene. Altman has been in the news lately for testifying in the Elan Patz case (they were childhood friends).

Korean Restaurant to Replace Pequena in Prospect Heights [DNA] GMAP
Photo by ibellum on Instagram

In honor of Black History Month, the Brooklyn Museum is hosting soul and jazz concerts, documentaries that challenge assumptions about racial identity, talks from black artists and poetry readings Saturday night. New Orleans-based band Water Seed will start the evening by performing “sophisticated jazz infused with funk,” and R&B singer Bilal will round out the end of the night with songs from his album “Love Surreal.” You could check out documentary screenings about soul food and the lives of queer women of color. Or listen to a poetry reading and discussion from Black Poets Speak Out, a collective inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. See the whole schedule here, with events running from 5 to 11 pm on February 7 at 200 Eastern Parkway.

766-772 Dean Street, CB, PS

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Wood-frame houses
Address: 766-772 Dean Street
Cross Streets: Underhill and Washington avenues
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
Year Built: Unknown
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: For all of the 12 years I took the B65 bus past these houses on Dean Street, I’ve wondered about them. Why were two of them set so far back so far from the street, and more curiously, why are the lots slanted? I couldn’t find too many definitive answers, but I did find out some interesting things. I hate to be an alarmist, but I don’t think they’ll be here in five years, so here’s what I could find out while you can still catch a glimpse.

The simple answer to why the houses are set back in the lots is that there used to be buildings in front of them. Today’s houses originally were behind the others. This was not all that uncommon on long lots and can be found here and there in Brooklyn, especially in older neighborhoods with mixed use residential/commercial buildings. If the lot size and the timing were right, neighborhoods like Carroll Gardens, parts of Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill and other neighborhoods occasionally have two houses on a lot; often a storefront with tenements above in the front, or a business in the front, and a smaller frame house in the back. At various times in the 19th century, one or more of these properties had two buildings on the lot. (more…)


You may have thought everyone in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park footprint had already moved, but nope, there are a few households still left. The state already seized title from seven of the remaining properties, a few of which are residential, above, and there are at least two families still living in them. One of these has a newborn. Also, the three houses at 491-495 Dean Street, above, are good-looking 19th century buildings.

And guess what? The remaining families want equivalent homes somewhere else in Prospect Heights, which would cost about $3,000,000 or so each. The state says they should be satisfied with a $1,500,000 property in Bed Stuy or Crown Heights, said the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report, which attended a hearing on the matter Thursday. One of the owners pointed out his property is worth even more as a development site for a skyscraper.

We were surprised to read all this, knowing that condo owner and anti-Atlantic Yards activist Daniel Goldstein and others got much more for their slighter holdings.

By the way, P.C. Richard and Modell’s will also be condemned, to make way for a 250-foot tower.

What do you think would be fair compensation for the homeowners?

Nearly All in Atlantic Yards Footprint Have Left; State Moves Toward Residential Eviction [AYR]
Photo by AYR

856 washington avenue prospect heights

Developer Slate Property Group has snapped up the former Greenpoint Savings Bank (and more recently, Capital One branch) at 856 Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights for $6,500,000, according to public records. The elaborate early 20th century neo-Classical bank building is just under 6,000 square feet, but zoning allows a developer to build up to 40,000 square feet on the site.

If the building is going to be converted to apartments, we wonder if Slate will add extra stories to the top. The firm has residential projects all over Brooklyn, including three large apartment buildings under construction along 4th Avenue in Park Slope

The Capital One branch closed last fall, as a new one opened at the corner of Franklin and Eastern Parkway. 

Closing Bell: Trader Joe’s Rumored to Be Opening in Prospect Heights [Brownstoner] GMAP
Image via Google Maps


As we’re sure you are all aware, there was a horrible fire at 265 Flatbush Avenue Wednesday morning. One man died, and at least eight were injured. The fire appears to have reduced the building to a shell.

Flatbush Hardware, on the ground floor, and the grocery store next door are both closed, according to reports in DNAinfo, The New York Times, and elsewhere. The fire was caused by faulty electrical wiring in the hardware store’s neon sign, they said.

A reader sent in this photo and said “Heartbroken about this. The building housed one of our last mom and pop hardware stores, Jamaican owned. I hope everyone got out safely.”

1 grand army plaza prospect heights 12015

Paging all Richard Meier fans! This two-bedroom condo at 1 Grand Army Plaza just became available. The fourth-floor unit has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an open living/dining area in addition to the modern all-white finishes you would expect. Asking price for the 1,263-square-foot apartment is $1,395,000 and the monthly common charge is $1,465.

1 Grand Army Plaza, #4M [Halstead] GMAP

417 prospect place mexican prospect heights 12015

A restaurant called Marga Mex is replacing The Spot at 417 Prospect Place in Prospect Heights, according to this sign we spotted on the storefront. The American restaurant at Prospect and Grand Avenue had been a neighborhood mainstay since it opened in 2008. Does anyone know when it closed, or have any more info about the Mexican restaurant? GMAP