Building of the Day: 185 Underhill Avenue

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Duryea Presbyterian Church
Address: 185 Underhill Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner of Sterling Place
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
Year Built: 1905
Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival
Architect: W.O. Weaver & Son
Landmarked: Yes, part of Prospect Heights Historic District (2009)

The story: Brooklyn is the Borough of Churches. Most of her neighborhoods have at least 5 or 6 major sacred structures in walking distance for most residents of the neighborhood. Some have even more. What happened to Prospect Heights? I was walking around taking pictures, and it dawned on me – where are the churches?

I’m so used to the huge number of churches and synagogues in Bedford Stuyvesant, Park Slope, Crown Heights North, and Brooklyn Heights. Here, there is St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Pacific Street, near Vanderbilt, and this one, Duryea Presbyterian. It seems that many of the neighborhood’s worshipers simply crossed Flatbush Avenue to Park Slope’s many churches, and were content to do so, and not build new structures in their neighborhood. Except for Duryea Presbyterian, who relocated from Clermont, near Atlantic Avenue, specifically to minister to their Prospect Heights flock.

The church is a robust Romanesque Revival structure, in rough faced granite, with a large rose window on the Underhill facade. Originally, it had a tall corner tower with an open belfry and a domed roof, as seen in the vintage postcard below. Those elements were removed, and a simpler roof substituted. The building is well regarded as a fine example of early 20th century ecclesiastical architecture. It was designed by the firm of W.O. Weaver & Son, who were based in Harrisburg, PA, where they were known for their design of protestant churches. Among their works are the Waynesboro Methodist Church, in Waynesboro, PA, and the 8th Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church of Altoona, both designed in 1901. According to the church’s literature, they were picked as architects from a competition. Since they only have two, Prospect Heights is fortunate that both of her churches are really beautiful. Too bad about the belfry and dome, though, they were spectacular. GMAP

Postcard from

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