Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Commercial Building
Address: 93 Court Street
Cross Streets: Livingston and Schermerhorn Streets
Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
Year Built: 1927
Architectural Style: Neo-Tudor
Architect: Malkind & Weinstein
Other buildings by architect: Ocean Pkwy Jewish Center, at 550 Ocean Pkwy, Kingsway Jewish Center, in Midwood.
The story: Martyn Weinstein and Samuel Malkind were architects active in Brooklyn, beginning in the 1920’s. As chronicled by Christopher Gray in his “Streetscapes” column, the pair designed their offices here at 93 Court Street in this picturesque Tudor style, in 1927. At the time, Tudor styled buildings were still very popular, especially the richly detailed “Banker’s Tudors” of the suburbs, so perhaps they thought this style would attract upwardly mobile strivers, or perhaps they just wanted to be different enough to stand out of a pretty ordinary street of 19th century, 5 story commercial/residential buildings. In any case, they succeeded with this wonderful little Olde English inspired establishment.
It’s a crying shame that their wonderfully detailed building is barely visible in the years of subsequent alterations, as you can see below, from the 1927 photo, that the original building was a little gem. It featured the pair’s own initials and T-Square heraldic style shield, just to the right of the second story picture window. The building also used to have all sorts of other whimsical details, such as half-timbered trim, quite well done, random patterned brick work, stained glass, some of which still remains, and two wonderful cats, cavorting across the slate roofs, now gone. There was also a man crouched over a set of blueprints above the office entrance to the right. Now beige painted stucco covers all of the details, and the windows have all been modernized.
The ground floor, most recently gutted out for a deli, once was home to a restaurant, quite an elegant looking place from the picture. In 1930, Prohibition agents found 12 half barrels of beer and 100 quarts on liquor on the premises. Oops.
In 1930 Weinstein and Malkind parted company, but Martyn Weinstein kept the office. Sometime during World War II, he changed his name to Martyn Weston, his son Don joined the firm, and the name was changed to Martyn and Don Weston, Architects. They built large buildings, such as the Jewish Centers, in Brooklyn and Queens. Martyn Weston was a charter member and president of the Brooklyn Society of Architects, president of the American Institute for Architects Brooklyn Chapter, and treasurer of the New York State Association of Architects. He left his records and awards to the Brooklyn Historical Society, which has them in their archives. In 2005, when Mr. Gray wrote his article, Don Weston still had offices nearby.
The building is not landmarked, or being considered for landmarking. Many of the original details lie just underneath the stucco. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for someone to bring it back to the original state? We’ve got a great picture here showing what it could be. What a great restaurant space that would be, and what great offices or apartments. Hello? Anyone listening? GMAP