Building of the Day: 116 Berkeley Place

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Frame row house
Address: 116 Berkeley Place
Cross Streets: 6th and 7th Avenues
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1862
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: M. J. Morrill
Other work by architect: 104 and 106 Berkeley Place
Landmarked: Yes, part of original Park Slope HD, (1973)

The story: As much as I love the brownstones, brick and limestone houses of Brooklyn, I find these frame houses just irresistible. Especially when they look as nice as this one does, as well as its neighbor, # 118. It may be my country upbringing, where frame clapboard houses were the norm, or just the wonderful proportions of these houses. Or perhaps it’s the relative rarity, especially in later neighborhoods like this part of Park Slope. Whatever it is, these are great houses.

They are also among the earliest houses in this end of the Slope, and date back to 1862. Wholesale development on this block really didn’t start until the 1870’s. They were both built by M. J. Morrill, a builder/architect who worked in this part of town. Morrill would later design brownstones on this block; the Neo-Grec ‘s at 104 and 106 Berkeley Place, across the street, are his, built twenty years later, in 1882.

According to the LPC, both of these houses have been re-clad, but are still fine examples of wood framed housing, built atop a brick basement story. This kind of construction was cheaper than all brick, or brownstone, but that doesn’t mean that these were in any way, shacks. They were middle-class housing, and the homes would have had the accoutrements of masonry houses of the period, with marble fireplace mantels, perhaps plaster ceiling details, as well as well constructed bannisters, newel posts and stairs. The gingerbread brackets on the porch are exceptionally good. This ornament came from a catalogue, but so too did the ornament on brownstones and brick houses of the time.

The Brooklyn Eagle documents that the house was offered for rent in 1888, and a Mrs. Faron ran a dressmaking business from her home here, with almost weekly ads from 1897 until 1902, the end of the period that the paper has been digitized for the internet. Walking down Berkeley Place towards 6th Avenue, this house and its neighbor are pleasant surprises, and provide an architectural and historical record of the growth of Park Slope. GMAP

Photo: Kate Leonova for Property Shark, 2006.

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