Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row houses
Address: 1061-1081 Prospect Place, between Albany and Kingston Avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1901
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Architect: Axel Hedman
Other buildings by architect: All over CH, North & South, Lefferts Manor, Park Slope, Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights, Flatbush.
Landmarked: No, but due to be calendared in Phase 3 of CHN HD.
The story: As discussed in today’s Walkabout piece, these are some of the row houses in the Prospect Place Superblock. They were spec housing, developed by a judge, who bought up a large parcel of the land that makes up this block. He hired Axel Hedman to build this row of two family Renaissance Revival houses. Hedman would also design most of the houses on the opposite side of the street.
By 1901, this part of town was still called Bedford, or more often, the St. Marks District, after the very upscale blocks only a block away from here. The more prime blocks close to Nostrand and New York Avenues had already been developed, but this was still a growing area at the turn of the century, and developers were finding a ready market for more modest homes a bit further out. Nearby, the enclaves of Revere Place, and Hampton and Virginia Places were also going up, as well as houses on Park Place stretching out towards Utica Avenue. The immense orphanage, the St. John’s Home for Boys, stood across Albany Avenue, and Bedford Park (now Brower Park) stood across the street on Kingston, making this block a very private little street.
Although single-family houses were still the norm, many homeowners opted for two-family homes, which were designed to look like single-families. At least some of this group, if not the entire thing, were built as two-families, with a separate apartment on the top floor. This is one reason why these houses are so long, as to accommodate generous extensions for bedrooms and a bathroom. Axel Hedman was a master of this type of housing, and it wouldn’t be disrespectful of his talent to say that he could churn these puppies out. They can be found in many neighborhoods, this type especially in Crown Heights North and South. He was also shamelessly copied by other spec builders throughout the area. They feature his trademark limestone faced, alternating bow front/bay front design, complete with handsome metal cornices and Classical carved ornament. The homes were equally handsomely appointed inside, all with parquet floors, fine woodwork and all the modern conveniences of the day.
When the Superblock designers, I. M. Pei and crew, came to this block in 1968, they found it intact, and perfect for their needs, with stubborn, yet proud homeowners. Today, the same holds true, and the block has worked hard for landmark status. The area is expected to be calendared this June, 2011.
The taller apartment building is also by Hedman.