Building of the Day: 276-284 Hicks Street

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Carriage Houses
Address: 276-284 Hicks Street
Cross Streets: Joralemon and State Streets
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Year Built: second half of 1800’s
Architectural Style: Elements of Greek and Romanesque Revival, and Queen Anne
Architect: Unknown, probably at least 2 different builders
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Heights HD (1965)

The story: The owners of the grand houses of Remsen, Joralemon and other Brooklyn Heights streets had to house their horses and carriages somewhere, so many of Brooklyn Height’s busier cross streets are dotted with carriage houses. In fact, Brooklyn Heights probably has more intact carriage houses than any other Brooklyn neighborhood. The “Hills” of Clinton, Cobble and Boreum are no slouches either.

As neighborhoods grow, and the technology of transportation evolved, these carriage houses endured. All of them were large enough for a horse or two, feed, tack and a carriage. There was usually a room for a groom, as well. The larger, better appointed ones could house more than one carriage rig, with rooms for several grooms, or a groomsman and his family, in the floors above the stable.

When cars replaced horses, some of these carriage houses became garages, but many people were finding them excellent homes, as well. What could be better? Most of these buildings are small enough to be an ideal one family, with no added tenants, and perfect creative work spaces, if you were an artist, or craftsman. You could even park your car in them. As neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights regained their status as first-rate places to live, the former homes of horses and servants became almost as expensive as the former homes of their masters.

These carriage houses are great. As a streetscape, they are a wonderful parade of arches and rooftops, with a practical mastery of the use of brick and stone. Individually, they have great charm, as well. The gabled roofline, Mansard roofs with dormers and wonderful little round windows of 278 and 276 are enhanced by those powerful arched doors. 276 also has that very personal bust of a woman, carved into the dormer. Further along, the more boxy lines of 280-284 Hicks are punctuated by the brickwork cornices, and more sedate Greek Revival lines. The shutters and flowerboxes are just perfect.

The mixture of two 2-story carriage houses, with a larger 3-story one in the middle, all built by the same builder at the same time, makes for a rhythm and flow that extends throughout the whole row. Take into consideration similar carriage houses directly across the street, add the other architectural elements on the block, themselves a mixture of styles and materials, and you have the makings of one of the most charming blocks in Brooklyn Heights. GMAP

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