Building of the Day: 313 Clinton Avenue

Photo by Young Gotham

The Building of the Day is a no-frills look at interesting structures of all types and from all neighborhoods. There will be old, new, important, forgotten, public, private, good and bad. Whatever strikes our fancy. We hope you enjoy.

Address: 313 Clinton Avenue, between DeKalb and Lafayette avenues
Name: Abraham Gould Jennings House
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1882
Architectural Style: Neo-Grec
Architect: George Morse
Landmarked: Yes

This house has been Halloween headquarters in Clinton Hill since 1994, when owner Janna Kennedy Hyten, an artist and costume maker, decided to host a fantastic annual community party for adults and kids alike. Ironically enough, anyone who ever dressed like early Madonna, or perhaps in steampunk lite, with lacy mitts and other frilly bits, owes the first owner of this house a nod of thanks, as well.

Clinton Hill Brooklyn Architecture.jpg

313 was built for A.G. Jennings, whose 1871 Jennings Lacework Factory was nearby, on Park Avenue and Hall Street. He was the first in the country to make lace mitts, gloves and other lace goods. Lace made him rich, and he joined his fellow industrial millionaires on fashionable Clinton Avenue.

The house was originally a warm red brick, like the Arbuckle House, next door, which was built in 1888. It’s been white since at least 1981, when the designation report was written. The house has been characterized as Neo-Grec by architectural historians, but it is truly individual.

Clinton Hill Brooklyn Architecture

Morse was a very good architect, and pushed the envelope of the style, with his bays and other elements, and by incorporating some very beautiful decorative elements into the facade, most notably the floral panels in the center of the bays. As a last Halloween note, the house has long been rumored to be haunted, and many of its tenants over the years have reported being locked in rooms, poltergeist activity, cold spots, etc.

It may be the ghost of Albert Jennings, the younger son, who had his 20 year marriage annulled in 1894, because his wife had too independent a spirit. That may explain the very phallic tombstone he and Dad are both buried under at Green-Wood. You can’t make this stuff up!

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