Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row Houses
Address: 10-18 St. Francis Place
Cross Streets: St. Johns and Lincoln Places
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North/Crow Hill
Year Built: 1901
Architectural Style: “Chicago Style” Renaissance Revival
Architect: F.L. Lowe,
Buildings by Architect: 17-33 Linden Boulevard, Flatbush
Landmarked: No, but should be.
The story: In 1900, Vennette F. Pelletreau, one of Brooklyn’s better known real estate agents and investors, became interested in this corner of Bedford because of its proximity to the new Brooklyn Institute of the Arts and Sciences, as well as transportation along the Brighton El line, and several trolley lines. The blocks between St. Johns and what was then DeGraw St. were empty fields used as playgrounds for local kids. The Brooklyn Eagle tells us that he got together a group of investors, they bought the land and cut St. Francis and St. Charles Places between the streets and under the development of builder/developer John Erikson, this group of houses was built.
They wanted something different, innovative and sellable, and the new “Chicago Style” houses were thought to fit the bill. They had low stoops and were basically English basement houses, with the kitchen and dining room on the first level, the parlors and library above opening off a foyer from the front door. The bedrooms were above. These particular homes were kitted out in hardwood trim and the latest in tile bathrooms.
The Brooklyn Eagle wrote up the houses in their special real estate coverage of Brooklyn, touting the economic bargain these houses were, and how they were copies of better homes in the St. Marks District, as well as in Clinton Hill. They do resemble some row houses on Park Place designed by William Debus, and others in Clinton Hill and Park Slope, so they had something there. They were designed by F.L. Lowe, who designed a similar group on Linden Boulevard, in Flatbush, also former BOTD’s.
I really like both of this little blocks anyway, and remember the first time I “discovered” them on a walk a long time ago. Both St. Francis and St. Charles have always been well taken care of, and are wonderful little enclaves tucked away from busy Franklin Avenue. These houses have great rooflines, and the mixture of red brick and limestone bandcourses, window casings, and quoins are very fine, and do give gravitas to the buildings, as do the use of Classical pediments and cartouches and other trims. They are very handsome houses, indeed, and quite different from the limestones around them. Good job! GMAP