Building of the Day: 200 Lafayette Avenue


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: 200 Lafayette Avenue, corner of Vanderbilt
Name: Joseph Steele House
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: main house, 1853, small wing believed to be earlier
Architectural Style: Greek Revival with Italianate elements
Architects: Unknown
Landmarked: Yes

Why chosen: Arguably the most photographed house in Clinton Hill, the Joseph Steele house is a survivor from when the area was still farms and suburban villas. One could once see the harbor from the widow’s walk and cupola. Many architectural historians believe the small wing is an earlier Federal building upon which the main house was added. The Steele house is prized for being the largest and best remaining example of a wooden suburban mansion in the transitional Greek Revival/Italianate style now standing in any of the five boroughs. The exterior has never been altered, which is amazing. In 1853, the house was sold to Joseph A. Brick, the first president of Brooklyn Union Gas. In 1903, the house was purchased by Joseph Skinner from the estate of Julia Brick, widow of Joseph. When the Clinton Hill Historic District was created in 1981, the house still belonged to the Skinner family, and it still does today. This bright yellow house is one of Brooklyn’s architectural treasures.

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