The BOTD 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: 122 76th Street, between Ridge Blvd. and Colonial Road
Name: Private House
Neighborhood: Bay Ridge
Year Built: 1900
Architectural Style: Gothic Revival
Bay Ridge, like much of Brooklyn, was originally settled by the Dutch, who called the area Yellow Hook. In 1853, after a horrible cholera epidemic, the name was changed to Bay Ridge, a much better name all around.
It referenced the beautiful views of the New York Bay, as well as the hills above it. In the late 1800’s, Shore Road became a popular location for the wealthy to build large summer homes with a river view. Today, almost all of those homes are gone, replaced by expensive, but not necessarily attractive homes.
The Shore Road was not the only desirable Bay Ridge street for the wealthy. Ridge Blvd, on the glacial ridge before it drastically slopes towards the bay, affords a fantastic view. The problem of getting to the street below on foot was solved by two of the very few pedestrian roads in Brooklyn, at the ends of 74th and 76th Streets.
Over 60 steep steps lead from the top of Ridge Blvd to Colonial Road below. It is on the end of this street, right before the steps, that this mansion was built, overlooking the bay. It’s a wonderfully theatrical Gothic Revival pile, built in 1900.
Rumor has it that it was first occupied by Justin Ford Kimball, the founder of Blue Cross, but I couldn’t find any reference to him ever living in NY. Whoever designed it, and whoever commissioned it, they had a great sense of drama.
The turrets, towers, peaked windows and copper bays on the stucco body are really well done. Sadly, at some point, someone thought the castle-like crenellated stone entryway and port-cochere would enhance the house. They don’t. Absolutely horrible.
The view from the bottom of the Montmartre style steps, upwards through the trees, shows how large this house is. According to Property Shark, it now has three apartments in it. They must be quite large, as the house measures over 14,000 square feet.
The building was abandoned for a while in the 70’s, 80’s, and local kids, of course, called it the haunted house. Today it is again in use, and while not much is known about its history or provenance, or the present state of the interior, it’s still an intriguing part of the history of Bay Ridge and Brooklyn.
[Photos by Suzanne Spellen]