Editor’s note: This story originally ran in 2010 and has been updated. You can read the previous post here.
The first time I passed this house, I couldn’t believe it was there, nestled between its neighbors, a bright spot of color amidst some flats buildings and the Van Brunt Post Office. How absolutely cool!
The history of the house at 271 9th Street is equally interesting. It was designed for William B. Croynyn by Patrick Keely in 1856, probably one of his first commissions. He would go on to be the most prolific Catholic church architect on the East Coast, designing hundreds of churches in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
At the time, Park Slope was suburbia, and country villas of this kind were built as retreats for busy successful businessmen like Croynyn, who was a successful Wall Street man. The house remained in the Croynyn family only until 1862.
By 1898, nearby 4th Avenue had grown up as a commercial street, and the location was perfect for Charles Higgins to establish his Higgins Ink Company offices and factory. The factory was located directly behind the house, which became the office, and today the factory is housing. In addition to his very successful, (and still going strong) ink business, Higgins was responsible for the Minerva statue in Green-Wood Cemetery, and is buried behind her, on the hill.
The house was designated an individual New York City landmark in 1978. In 1981, jazz musician and teacher Charles Sibirsky and his wife purchased the house, and opened Slope Music. Architect Eric Safyan restored the entryway and the decorative ironwork cresting, and built a new rear deck.
The house has all of the classic Second Empire goodies: the general shape, mansard roof, the decorative slate tiles, and the handsome cupola. It also has many Italianate elements, especially in the acanthus brackets on the porch and those supporting the roofs of the bays.
This is a great house, with a great history, fortunately preserved by Higgins Ink for all of the years when it probably would have been lost, ending in the fantastic restoration by the Sibirskys.
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]
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