Here’s the next installment of the Strong Place Construction Blog, a series following Brennan Realty Services and their team through the development of three townhouses in Cobble Hill, at the corner of Kane and Strong Place. Today Brennan Realty posts Part Two of the history of the Strong Place properties. The history of the properties is spread over three posts, go here for Part One and tune in for the last installment.
Numbers 2 and 4 Strong Place
Little is known about numbers 2 and 4 Strong Place. We have one photograph take in 1934, and we have the Brooklyn maps to give us a clue as to their dates. We also have census records to show the progression of people who lived there every ten years, and we have the newspapers. Nothing is written about the two houses in the Landmarks Preservation Commission report for Cobble Hill, written when the district was landmarked in 1969. At that time, these reports were in their infancy, and while much more thorough than earlier reports, (the 1965 Brooklyn Heights report is all of one page) they were not able to fill in all of the blanks. The houses were gone by then, and no mention of them was made.
So what can we deduce from the evidence we have? The 1934 photograph offers some clues. The two houses were very similar to number 6 Strong Place, and were probably built at the same time. Unfortunately, the designation report for Cobble Hill totally fails to mention number 6, the last remaining house of the trio that stood on the corner of Strong Place and Harrison, now Kane Street. So we have to do some speculating here. The earliest homes on this block date from the 1830’s, also the time of the Greek Revival style of architecture, of which all three houses are an example. There are other houses on this block, documented as being from the 1830’s that look almost exactly the same. So I think it’s safe to say numbers 2, 4, and 6 Strong Place were built in the 1830’s. Most of the houses in this part of Cobble Hill, from this time period, were built by builder/speculators, and there were usually no architects of record. The 1830’s also pre-dates another of the sources for Brooklyn building information: The Real Estate Record and Builder’s Guide, a weekly magazine, put out by the building and real estate industry. It covered Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and parts of New Jersey and Long Island. It began publishing in 1868.
Here’s the second installment to the Strong Place Construction Blog, a series following Brennan Realty Services and their team through the development of three townhouses in Cobble Hill, at the corner of Kane and Strong Place. Today Brennan Realty posts about the history of the Strong Place properties. The history of the properties will be spread over three posts, so tune in for the next couple installments.
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, is an old neighborhood, with a history that goes back to the beginnings of Breukelin, and the area’s first Dutch settlers. The first farmers in the area were granted land patents as early as the 1640’s, for land stretching from the East River shore to the Gowanus Valley. What is now Cobble Hill was a land of rich farmland, heavy with apples, peach and other fruit trees, the farmers taking their sustenance and incomes from the farms and the river nearby.
By 1766, the area was known as “Cobleshill”, or sometimes “Ponkiesbergh”, named for now unknown people or places. This covered the land east of Red Hook Lane, near what is now the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street, with Court Street. Cobble Hill Fort was a platform on Coble’s Hill, with three cannon protected by spiral trenches. It was also known as “Smith’s Barbette”, or “Spiral Fort.” It was one of several forts built to protect the new American forces during the Battle of Long Island, and was important because of its height and from this vantage point. Washington had arranged for two cannon to sound when the British had been sighted, and from here, he watched the debacle that took place in nearby Gowanus, a losing bloody battle that almost destroyed the colonial army, here at the beginning of the war in 1776. After the British took over all of Brooklyn and New York City, they tore down the top of Cobble Hill, so that this Brooklyn vantage point would never again be able to look upon their troop movement. They then settled down, the officers occupying the homes of prosperous citizens such as Philip Livingston, while the troops built huts on the land of other farmers, such as Ralph Patchen. Over thirty years later, during the War of 1812, Cobble Hill was again built up and fortified, and was called “Fort Swift”, part of the lines of defense of Kings County.