Editor’s note: This is an update of a story that ran in 2015. Ready the original here.

We visit this row of charming little cottages in my Crown Heights North walking tours, and I am always asked if they were built as servants’ quarters for the now-vanished mansions of St. Marks Avenue, which is right behind this block.

No, they weren’t. The earliest owners of these houses at 935 to 947 Prospect Place would probably have been highly offended at the suggestion. After all, they themselves were of more-than-moderate income, had domestic help and were fixtures in Brooklyn’s society pages.

935 crown heights

A Row of Speculative Housing

Alas, the more mundane truth is that these were simply speculative houses, among the very last single-family homes to be built in the neighborhood. But wouldn’t it be great if all spec houses were like this?

These types of homes are rare in urban row-house neighborhoods like Crown Heights, but aren’t so out of place in suburban Queens communities such as Hollis, St. Albans and Addisleigh Park.

American residential architecture in the late teens and early 1920s took a turn from the Colonial Revival and embraced a romanticized English cottage/Medieval townhouse phase. From this we get everything from large suburban Bankers Tudors to storybook cottages, as well as half-timbered stuccoed urban apartment buildings.

935 prospect place

An 1897 ad for A. White Pierce. Image via Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The Architecture of an Urban Cottage

Architect A. White Pierce was right in the middle of this stylistic craze, designing houses in Queens, suburban Flatbush and elsewhere.

The cottages on Prospect Place consist of two outside houses that are a bit larger than the center ones, and set closer to the street. The other four are set back. The interior houses share chimneys, while three arched openings in the group access the garages in back.

The houses are stucco, with handsome slate roofs that are now almost 100 years old. They’ve held up wonderfully, and the houses wouldn’t be nearly as striking without them.

935 prospect place

Although diminutive on the exterior, the houses are quite spacious and roomy inside. The interior décor was basically Craftsman, with classic Craftsman-style tile fireplace surrounds and tall wainscoting in the dining room.

The cottages each have a living room, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor, with three bedrooms and a full bathroom on the second floor.

Pierce made good use of the odd spaces, such as in the over-the-driveway arches and in the attic. The houses also have full basements for more family room.

935 prospect place

Developers and Owners

The developer and builder of the row was Thomas H. Fraser. He was quite prolific in Brooklyn during the first two decades of the 20th century, building traditional row houses, flats buildings and suburban homes.

His office was on Montague Street, but he lived in Massapequa where he was active in town politics and building projects.

935 prospect place

A 1920 ad for the newly constructed houses. Image via Brooklyn Daily Eagle

In the course of his career, especially in the early days, he went in and out of financial trouble, going into bankruptcy in 1917. But he emerged, regrouped, got new partners and kept going. These houses were built from 1920-22.

The first owners were all well-to-do society folk; no doubt, the presence of a garage in back of these cottages helped sell to a demographic that could afford one or more vehicles.

brooklyn eagle

Alice Good Smith and Weather Vane in 1931 at the Brooklyn Horse Show. Photo via Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Among the early residents were Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Stafford Smith, who lived in 943. This was their first home after their wedding in 1930. Both sides of the family were wealthy Brooklynites.

Mrs. Smith, formerly Miss Alice Good, was a champion polo player and horsewoman. She was mentioned often as a member of the Riding and Driving Club, the upscale equestrian club in Park Slope. They lived here for six years, leaving in 1936.

945 Prospect Place was home to Albert P. Armour. He was the secretary and treasurer of the family business, the Turner-Armour Company, which manufactured telephone booths.

prospect place

And finally, 947 was the home of Dr. Frank A. Gough, a highly respected orthodontist. He was a pioneer in orthodontia and was the recipient of many honors and awards. He was in practice with his daughter, Dr. Helen A. Gough, one of few women to practice dentistry and orthodontia at that time.

He was also the first Brooklynite to be appointed the District Governor of the Eastern District of New York of Rotary. He and his family lived here from 1928 until his death 10 years later.

The houses have always been well maintained and their garages are the envy of the neighborhood. They are only steps away from Brower Park and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]

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Downtown Brooklyn increasingly feels like one large, loud construction site, and yet another tower there is starting to rise.

Said building, located at 420 Albee Square, will wear the name One Willoughby Square. During a recent visit, workers were on site, and it has risen three stories rather quickly.

The building will eventually reach 35 stories, one of the tallest in Brooklyn, and will be dedicated mostly to office space. Retail will be on the first floor, and a school will occupy floors two through six.

420 albee square

Developer JEMB Realty, who purchased the property in 2014 for $38,464,188, made a deal with the NYCEDC in 2017 for additional neighboring lots in exchange for the school.

Based on renderings, the facade will be mostly glass with blue strips between the floors. The entire building is shaped like an upside down letter “T” with a larger, four-story base and a spike sticking up out of the middle.

Rendering by FXCollaborative

FXCollaborative is behind the design and, according to a story in the New York Post, was so in love with the building they decided to lease the seventh through ninth floors.

It will occupy crowded terrain: it’s sandwiched between the already completed residential building called The Azure at 436 Albee Square on one side and the empty lot once planned for Willoughby Park on the other. Brooklyn Point, currently under construction, is down the block and across the street in shopping mall and residential tower City Point.

Rendering by FXCollaborative

Albee Square has been slated for development for years, following the city’s removal of rent-regulated residents from apartments in the area via eminent domain. The area has been steeped in drama, which has included the demolition of those buildings, the long-delayed demolition of vacated tenements and the promise of a park that, as of now, seems more like a pipe dream than reality.

[Photos by Craig Hubert unless otherwise noted]

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Get out into the borough with multiple tours exploring history and transformation in Brooklyn neighborhoods.

You can walk and learn with the Municipal Art Society on tours in East New York, Brighton Beach, Crown Heights and Bushwick during the month of March.

The major rezoning of their community has local advocates concerned about the future of East New York. Join Zulmilena Then and Farrah Lafontant of Preserving East New York (PENY) for a look at the architectural treasures that locals have identified as important to the community. The walk on Saturday, March 16 includes a stop at the most recent designated landmark in the community, the Empire State Dairy.

400 glenmore avenue east new york

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, East New York. Photo by Susan De Vries

Social historian Melanie Macchio will explore the changing dynamic of Brighton Beach on Sunday, March 17. Walk the streets of the neighborhood known as Little Odessa while hearing the stories of those who have lived and worked in the neighborhood.

The farmland of Crown Heights South was transformed in the 20th century with large scale residential and commercial developments. Join historians Suzanne Spellen and Morgan Munsey on Saturday, March 23 for a trek through Brooklyn old and new.

Preservationist Joe Svehlak explores the ongoing transformation of Bushwick on Saturday, March 30. Delve into an exploration of everything from the Dutch roots of the old town to the development of Rheingold Gardens.

All tours are $40, $20 for MAS members. For more information on all the tours and to purchase tickets, visit their website here.

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Turning to the opposite end of the spectrum from well-preserved Park Slope landmarks to modern renovations, this two bedroom condo in Park Slope at 307 7th Street is carved out of Renaissance Revival walkup apartment building. There’s not a shred of original detail left, but it is updated in the standard condo style, what with the glistening kitchen machinery and white, white, and very white custom cabinets in the master bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. Most of the walls are white too, with the exception of a few touches like gray accent walls and a black soapstone breakfast bar. It also has a red-brick wood burning fireplace and new wood floors.

307 7th Street was built circa 1906 (per press at the time and historic maps). On the outside, its tan bricks are interrupted by limestone sills with foliate lintels, slightly curved window bays, and recessed double doors with transom, framed with fluted columns and a decorative classical hood, all topped with bracketed cornices with a garlanded frieze.


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Like many apartments of its era, it would have originally been configured with a parlor in the front, two bedrooms in the middle, and dining room and kitchen in the rear. The press around its original marketing mentions “open plumbing,” which dates to a time when the pipes around the sink would have been exposed for the purpose of preventing “bad air,” which supposedly caused illness, according to Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen’s treatment of bathroom history.

All that said, this one is not going to win any design awards, but it’s practical, with two bathrooms and a number of built-ins and seven closets, though not overly large. There is also mini split air conditioning and a washer/dryer in the unit, which is located on the second floor of the eight-unit building.

Listed by Kristin Miller of Corcoran, it’s asking $1.085 million. With monthly common charges of $295 and taxes of $146, it’s relatively affordable in the grand scheme of things. Good for the price?

[Listing: 307 7th Street, APT 2L | Broker: Corcoran] GMAP

307 7th street

307 7th street

307 7th street

307 7th street

307 7th street

307 7th street

307 7th street

307 7th street

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The Farrington is a new development situated atop the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in the vibrant and perennially popular neighborhood of Flushing in Queens. Located at 134-37 35th Avenue on floors 8 through 15, it is elegantly designed with a contrasting glass and dark wood exterior and includes 100 residences, all with either one or two bedrooms.

Apartment 9D is a well laid out two-bedroom, two-bath home.

The combined living-dining room leads to a large balcony facing east. There is plenty of room for books and an entertainment center as well as dining and relaxing.

The fully equipped, efficiently designed open plan kitchen has a built-in external ventilation system with a high-powered Bertazzoni range hood. The back splash and countertops, including a waterfall peninsula, are quartz. All of the appliances are top-of-the-line, including a Bertazzoni gas range, while the dishwasher and custom-panel refrigerator are from Bosch.

There are elegant touches throughout the apartment, including tinted floor-to-ceiling double-paned windows and Barcelona oak wood flooring.

The master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and a large walk-in closet. A second bedroom also has a large closet and is near the second bathroom.

Both bathrooms have heated porcelain tile floors and illuminated medicine cabinets, and both have deep soaking tubs. The unit also contains a Bosch washer/dryer and, near the entrance, a large coat closet and a niche for an entry table.

Of course, residents enjoy a host of perks, with a recreation room, fitness area, bicycle room, laundry and an on-site garage. A rooftop terrace with barbecue capabilities is one of several common outdoor spaces. And for a fee, residents can take advantage of the hotel’s pool.

Nearby attractions include restaurants, shops, the Billie Jean King USTANational Tennis Center, Queens Museum of Art, Queens Wildlife Center, Flushing Meadows Park and Citi Field. Transportation is provided by the LIRR, the 7 subway line and a plethora of MTA bus lines. The Long Island Expressway provides easy access to Manhattan as well your weekend gateway to Long Island.

Apartment 9D is listed by Sophia Park and Mae Liew of Modern Spaces and the unit is asking $1,066,520. Monthly tax is $58 and common charges are $459.

[Listing: 134-37 35th Avenue, 9D | Broker: Modern Spaces] GMAP

Queens apartment for sale in Flushing 134-37 35th Ave

A slice of wonderland is coming to Brooklyn this spring when quirky cafe Alice’s Tea Cup opens in Brooklyn Heights.

The storefront windows of their new location at 43 Hicks Street are currently papered over as the work, begun in the fall, continues. A handwritten sign recently spotted on the door indicated the owners hope the space will be up and running by April 1.

alices tea cup

Empty for a number of years, the quaint storefront was previously home to a pet store named Rowf, old photos show.

The Brooklyn outpost will join the original location on the Upper West Side, which opened in 2001, and a second location on the east side. A third Manhattan location closed over the summer.

Known for tea, scones and an amusing atmosphere, the other locations also have a full menu with plenty of kid-friendly options. No details on what precisely besides tea and baked goods will be served at the Brooklyn location have been posted as of yet.

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A picturesque Queen Anne-slash-Romanesque Revival townhouse with a stable on St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights may soon be demolished to make way for a modern apartment building. Like so many other architectural treasures that have been lost in Brooklyn recently, No. 669 is located just outside the historic district on an oversize lot with plenty of excess FAR.

South elevation. Rendering by Cycle Architecture + Planning

An SRO that recent renovations and a certificate of non-harassment could not save, the property sold in April for $3.25 million to Massimo Cocco, president of Masmark LLC, according to public records. It was a House of the Day when it was on the market in 2017. It had previously sold in 2015 for $1.5 million from the family that had owned it since the 1960s to an LLC whose partners included Jonah Sandman, the Brooklyn townhouse maven behind the BK to the Fullest blog and Homecanvaser NY.

669 st marks avenue

Brooklyn architect firm Cycle Architecture + Planning is designing a five-story Passive House building with nine apartments, according to their website and an application for a new-building permit filed in December. A rendering shows a modern masonry building with balconies in front of floor-to-ceiling windows and an arch-topped bay that references the Romanesque Revival arches of the eclectic circa 1891 townhouse.

669 st marks avenue

An application for a demolition permit was filed with the Department of Buildings on January 3. The permits have not yet been issued.

669 st marks place

The house has a colorful history, according to Brownstone Detectives. Built by prolific builder Stephen Morehouse Randall for his family — Randall built a school and many other buildings in Greenpoint — it was also owned at various points by “such 19th century figures as Edward C. Delavan, the ‘Apostle of Temperance,’ John D. Cutter, the Brooklyn silk merchant, and a millionaire Brooklyn Parks Commissioner, Jacob G. Dettmer,” the blog relates.

669 st marks avenue

The driveway between 669 and 673 St. Marks Avenue

The asymmetrical three-story house has a fanciful gabled roof and dormer window, a front porch with five Ionic columns, and a brick and brownstone facade with Romanesque Revival arches and foliate details in pressed metal.

669 st marks avenue

673 St. Marks Avenue

Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen has written extensively about the block and general area, including a similar house designed by architect E.G.W. Dietrick next door at 673 St. Marks Avenue. “At the turn of the 20th century, St. Marks Avenue was THE premiere street in the St. Marks District of Bedford. Mansions, both attached and stand alone, stretched from Rogers Avenue to Kingston Avenue. This particular block is quite architecturally significant, evidenced by homes designed by some of Brooklyn’s finest architects of the period,” she said in two pieces about homes at 670 and 672 St. Marks across the street and their architect, Peter J. Lauritzen.

669 st marks avenue

675 St. Marks Avenue

Similar grand homes on large lots have recently been demolished in Clinton Hill, including one on Washington Avenue and another on Clinton Avenue near Hot Bird.

669 st marks avenue

675 St. Marks Avenue

669 st marks avenue

The St. Mark at 665 St. Marks Avenue

6689 st marks avenue

673 St. Marks Avenue

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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A homeowner is stumped as to the cause of the lights occasionally dimming in their brownstone. It doesn’t seem to be connected to what other appliances they might be running at the time. After checking the circuit breakers what should be their next step?

Please chime in with your advice.


Need a professional opinion? Try Brownstoner Services, where you can talk to a concierge (it’s free) or browse our community of pros. >>


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