We continue this week’s look at Brooklyn’s natural treasure: Prospect Park. Summer is coming!

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Prospect Park Peristyle, aka Grecian Shelter, aka Croquet Shelter
Address: 96 Parkside Avenue
Cross Streets: Park Circle and Ocean Avenue
Neighborhood: Flatbush
Year Built: 1905
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: McKim, Mead & White
Other Works by Architect: In Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum, Grand Army Plaza park entrance, and other entrances and structures within Prospect Park (Stanford White)
Landmarked: Yes, individual landmark (1968)

The story: Who doesn’t love this Classical Greek inspired structure? For many people, Prospect Park begins and ends on the Park Slope side, but other parts of the park have some of the best goodies, some hidden, and some, like this shelter, in plain view.

And to learn that it was designed by one of the finest architectural firms in the history of American architecture is just icing on the cake. As summer rapidly is upon us, let’s take a look at this wonderful folly on the Flatbush side of the park.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Brooklyn Technical High School
Address: 29 Fort Greene Place
Cross Streets: Between DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1930-33
Architectural Style: Collegiate Gothic meets Deco skyscraper
Architect: Walter C. Martin
Other Buildings by Architect: Franklin K. Lane HS, Bklyn; Samuel Gompers Vocational HS, Bronx; Andrew Jackson HS, Jamaica HS, Queens; George Washington HS, Manhattan, and more
Landmarked: No
The story: Architect Walter C. Martin, the Superintendent of Buildings for the New York City Board of Education had his hands full building Brooklyn Tech. The massive school building was constructed during the first three years of the 1930s, when the country was reeling under the effects of the Great Depression. Thanks to Federal money, the school continued to rise above the brownstone streets of Fort Greene, overlooking Fort Greene Park. Brooklyn Tech was conceived as a specialized school, open to boys only. Part One of this history appears here. It would offer a curriculum that was heavy in mathematics, science, engineering and related subjects, preparing them for higher education or a good job in the industrial sector. The school was the brainchild of Dr. Albert Colston, once the head of the Mathematics department at Brooklyn’s Manual Training School in Park Slope. He would become the new school’s first principal.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Brooklyn Technical High School
Address: 29 Fort Greene Place
Cross Streets: Between DeKalb and Lafayette Avenues
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1930-33
Architectural Style: Collegiate Gothic meets Deco skyscraper
Architect: Walter C. Martin
Other Buildings by Architect: Franklin K. Lane HS, Bklyn; Samuel Gompers Vocational HS, Bronx; Andrew Jackson HS, Jamaica HS, Queens; George Washington HS, Manhattan, and more
Landmarked: No

The story: After World War I, educators began to realize that the world was rapidly changing, with technology becoming more and more important to everyday life, as well as in employment. The technologies made real for war were moving into the marketplace.

It was very similar to today, in that respect.

At the end of the 19th century, educators had introduced “manual training” into the high school curriculum. Girls were directed into the “domestic arts,” but boys were taught skills in carpentry, metalworking, engineering, drafting, building skills and the like, preparing some of them for higher education, and most of them for the job market.

Dr. Albert Colston was the head of the Mathematics Departmment at Brooklyn’s Manual Training School, later called John Jay High School, in Park Slope. He had a vision of a new technical high school that would train boys in the new technologies of the 20th century.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Free-standing mansion
Address: 395 Washington Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Greene Avenue
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1872
Architectural Style: Second Empire
Architect: Thomas Norris
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill Historic District (1981)

The story: This handsome Second Empire brick mansion has a commanding spot here on the corner of Washington and Greene Avenues. It’s also one of a small number of surviving free-standing homes on this important street in Clinton Hill.

The three story house was built in the early 1870s. A newspaper ad in 1872 mentions this address. It was probably built for the family of Freeborn G. Smith, one of the great characters of 19th century Brooklyn.

Freeborn Smith was a wealthy piano manufacturer. He was born in Baltimore, where he started his career, apprenticed to a piano maker. He quickly learned piano construction, and rose to become a master. Baltimore wasn’t able to help him rise any further, so he came to New York City.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Originally Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor, now Ebenezer Gospel Tabernacle
Address: 470 Throop Avenue
Cross Streets: Gates Avenue and Quincy Street
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1891
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Probably Parfitt Brothers
Other Buildings by Architect: St. Augustine RC Church, Grace Methodist Church in Park Slope. Berkeley, Grosvenor and Montague Apartment buildings in Brooklyn Heights, Truslow mansion, Crown Heights North, as well as row houses, flats buildings, fire houses and commercial buildings throughout Brooklyn
Landmarked: No

The story: The Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor (AICP) was founded in New York City in 1843 as a charitable organization aimed at helping those the Victorians called the “deserving poor.”

They established outreach centers that could further their goals, which included housing reform, and distribution centers for clothing, dry goods, medical supplies and coal. They also aided in burial expenses and sometimes rent.

Here in Brooklyn, a separate branch was founded by Seth Low and other rich and influential Brooklynites. They commissioned a two-story building on Livingston Street that would act as headquarters as well as a distribution and help center. It was located where 110 Livingston is today. The architects for that project were the Parfitt Brothers.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 515-533 2nd Street
Cross Streets: 7th and 8th Avenue
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1894-1898
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Robert Dixon, James Nelson, J. L. Allan
Other Buildings by Architect: Robert Dixon was responsible for row houses and flats buildings throughout Brownstone Brooklyn
Landmarked: Yes, part of Park Slope Historic District (1973)

The story: This group of 10 houses is the product of the cooperation of three separate and otherwise unconnected architects. While that has probably occurred in our brownstone neighborhoods more often than we think, this is one of the few documented cases.

The houses were built for a single developer between 1894 and 1898, but were designed by three separate architects who decided to work together to design complementary houses.

The literature is unclear as to the roles Robert Dixon, James Nelson and J. L. Allan played in the design of the houses. Of the three, Robert Dixon is the best known, with a great body of work to his credit, including elsewhere in Park Slope, as well as Bedford Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Heights, Crown Heights North, Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill. He worked in Brooklyn from 1876 until 1903.

Perhaps Dixon laid out the general plan, and the others filled in the details, or the interiors. In any case, this is a beautiful row of houses in the Romanesque Revival style, characterized by the arched windows and doors.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Flats building
Address: 645 Carlton Avenue
Cross Streets: Prospect and Park Places
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
Year Built: 1894
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: Delany & Collins
Other Buildings by Architect: 245-249 Prospect Place, 255-265 Prospect Place, all Prospect Heights
Landmarked: Yes, part of Prospect Heights Historic District (2009)

The story: Prospect Heights as a neighborhood really developed twice. The Dutch and other settlers to the area found the land to be rocky and ill-suited for most farming, so there wasn’t much going on here until the mid-19th century.

In 1834, Brooklyn incorporated as a city, and divided itself into 9 wards. This was the 9th, and the least populated ward in the new city. At that time, the Old Flatbush toll road cut through the neighborhood, running a bit east of where modern Flatbush Avenue runs today.

The first houses in the neighborhood were small, wood-framed homes and businesses located close to Flatbush. A few of those buildings still stand, on Pacific and Carlton Streets.

But for most people, this neighborhood was like a fly-over state. Flatbush Avenue was well traveled and had good public transportation. People and goods were traveling to the harbor from agrarian Flatbush, but no one stopped to live here.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Former Public School 26, now Excelsior Charter School
Address: 848 Quincy Street
Cross Streets: Ralph and Patchen avenues
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: 1890-91
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: James W. Naughton
Other Buildings by Architect: Many of Brooklyn’s finest school buildings, including Boys High School, Girls High School, PS 70, all in Bedford Stuyvesant. Also PS 9 Annex in Prospect Hts, PS 107 in Park Slope, PS 108 in Cypress Hills, among many others.
Landmarked: No

The story: The neighborhood around yesterday’s Building of the Day, 838 Quincy Street, yielded several other interesting buildings. This one was the most spectacular of all.

Even before the Civil War, there were more than enough students in this part of Brooklyn to cause the Brooklyn Board of Education to build a school here. In 1856, the first PS 26 opened in a wood-framed building on Ralph Avenue and New Bushwick Lane.

A year later, the city purchased eight lots of land between Ralph and Patchen Avenues, opening up onto Gates and Quincy Streets. It took them a while, but in 1869, the new school, a three story brick building, opened for business.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row house
Address: 838 Quincy Street
Cross Streets: Ralph and Patchen avenues
Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
Year Built: Between 1880 and 1888
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: The little anomalies, the quirks, and the odd buildings that pop up all over the city help make Brooklyn so interesting, architecturally. Why would someone build a one story house that looks like a traditional row house cut off at the knees?

Was there a fire, and the upper stories were never rebuilt? Did someone have enough money to build only one floor? Or did they just want a small house without any frills, with just enough space to meet their needs? We’ll probably never know.

This is the old 25th Ward, the easternmost part of Bedford, bordering on Bushwick. It was also called the Eastern District, a wide swath of land that covered much of Eastern Bed Stuy, as well as Bushwick and part of East Williamsburg.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: The W. C. Vosburgh Building. Formerly the showroom for the W.C. Vosburgh Mfg. Co., now part of Macy’s
Address: 418-420 Fulton Street
Cross Streets: Hoyt Street and Gallatin Place
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1888
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Architect: Parfitt Brothers
Other Buildings by Architect: All kinds of buildings, all over Brooklyn, including Berkeley, Grosvenor and Montague Apartments, Brooklyn Heights; St. Augustine RC Church, Grace Methodist Church, Park Slope; Truslow House, Crown Heights North; plus hundreds of row houses, as well as apartment buildings, office buildings, fire houses, churches and more.
Landmarked: No, unfortunately

The story: After the Civil War ended, the building boom that swept Brooklyn made fortunes for companies producing the fixtures and products that went into the modern home. There were fixtures for the bathroom and kitchen, the hardware on every door and window, not to mention the decorative woodwork, marble, tiles, and the like. And of, course, there was lighting.

Gas fixtures were the modern lighting of the day in 1865 when William C. Vosburgh started his company, the W. C. Vosburgh Manufacturing Company. The company made all kinds of gas lighting fixtures for home, business and industry. Their manufacturing facility was a plant at 269 State Street, near Smith Street.

With all of the residential building going on, the company decided to open a large, upscale showroom to showcase their extensive inventory of chandeliers, sconces, table lamps, and more. Vosburgh hired the Parfitt Brothers architectural firm to design a handsome and elegant showroom for Fulton Street, rapidly becoming the shopping and entertainment hub of Brooklyn.