Building of the Day: 593-601 10th Street

Photo: Christopher D. Brazee for Landmarks Preservation Commission

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 593-601 10th Street
Cross Streets: 7th and 8th Avenue
Neighborhood: Park Slope
Year Built: 1892
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival with Romanesque details
Architect: Robert Dixon
Other works by architect: Many row houses, flats buildings, mixed-use, and other buildings in Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and Dumbo.
Landmarked: Yes, part of the Park Slope HD Extension (2012)

The story: Architecture, as an expression of a creative art form, is not static. We codify the different styles that architects used to build Brooklyn, and everywhere else, by date, materials and physical characteristics, but it’s hard to pin down the human imagination. Within each style are many variations, and as the 19th century progressed, and technology made new things possible, the stylistic variations and blending of elements got more and more eclectic and interesting.

Park Slope is one of our younger brownstone neighborhoods. Masonry row houses in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Fort Greene date back to the 1850s, while the bulk of Park Slope’s homes are from the mid-1880s through the turn of the century. Those thirty years cover a lot: the invention of the pneumatic drill, modern advances in plumbing, the practical use of electricity, more modern building practices and materials, and much more.

Robert Dixon was one of those architects who was easily able to embrace change, and use it to his advantage. He was born in 1852, here in Brooklyn, and got his training at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, and under the wing of his father, carpenter Dominick Dixon. In 1876, he began working for architect Marshall J. Morrill, a prominent Brooklyn architect responsible for buildings as varied as Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, and the Feuchtwanger Stables, both in Fort Greene. After three years with Morrill, Dixon put out his own shingle, and began collecting clients.

He became quite prolific, with much of his work here in Park Slope. In the new historic district extension, he’s responsible for at least thirty buildings alone, which include row houses, storefront and flats buildings, and tenements. He also designed two police stations, which are both demolished, one in Coney Island, the other in Sheepshead Bay. An extension of the Women’s Almshouse was his, as was a re-working of the Insane Asylum in Flatbush. He also designed the Tivoli Concert Hall in Park Slope, and worked on the Casino and Jockey Clubs in Coney Island. Those too, are long gone.

These houses show a bit of creativity in Dixon’s mixing of style. The houses have been classified as Renaissance Revival, due to when they were built, as well as his use of classical detailing on a spare and flat façade. But his use of materials is pure Romanesque Revival; rough and smooth cut ground floor brownstone, with the upper stories in red brick. The deeply set arched windows on the top floor are pure Romanesque Revival, as is the deep overhanging cornice. I like these houses, they almost defy classification, as there is so much going on there, but because Dixon was good, none of it is screaming for attention, it’s all rather subdued and subtle. And therefore, it works. GMAP

(Photo: Kate Leonova for PropertyShark)

Photo: Christopher D. Brazee for Landmarks Preservation Commission

Photo: Christopher D. Brazee for Landmarks Preservation Commission

Photo: Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

Photo: Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

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