Building of the Day: 119 Eighth 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: 119 Eighth Avenue, corner of Carroll Street
Name: Thomas Adams, Jr. House
Neighborhood: Park Slope (Park Slope Historic DIstrict)
Year Built: 1888
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architects: C.P.H. Gilbert
Landmarked: Yes

This double house is regarded by most architectural commentators to be the finest Romanesque Revival private home in the city. It certainly is one of my favorites.

Thomas Adams made his fortune, and that of many dentists to come, with his manufacture of Chiclets gum, and the vending machine that dispensed it. The building was built as a double house, one facing 8th Ave, the other facing Carroll St, both for Adams family members.

There is, of course, the tale of the house being haunted by the spirits of servants who died, trapped in an elevator when the rest of the family was away.

CPH Gilbert, who also designed much of Montgomery Place and Carroll Street, adjacent to this house, was a master of the Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne Style, and his houses are among the Slope’s best and most expensive homes.

He would go on to Manhattan, to design some of the Upper East Side’s most ostentatious chateaus, all quite different from his warm Brooklyn buildings. He is not Cass Gilbert, architect of the Woolworth Building, btw.

The Adams house is a wealth of individual details that make it so good: the magnificent stained glass, the Byzantine leaf ornament and the carved dragons, as well as the ornate wrought iron fencing, and those amazing doors with the fanciful hardware.

I love it all! An important house like this needs to be better taken care of, however, and I hope it doesn’t deteriorate more, quite a surprise for the Slope.

Maybe it’s the unhappy spirits of those unfortunate servants. Property Shark lists 10 apartments in the building, and it seems to have been owned by the same person for a very long time.

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[Photos by Suzanne Spellen]

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