McMultifamily Revamp of Historic Clinton Hill Mansion Emerges


The red brick facade, arched entry and mansard roof of the freestanding Second Empire mansion at 489 Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill, once a spot for civil war veterans, have vanished. In their place are off-center neo-Classical columns and a pediment fronting a dark modern apartment building.

The building in 2017. Photo by Susan De Vries

The building in 2017

The scaffolding recently came down, revealing the design of the facade has had some design tweaks since the rendering was made public. The Corinthian columns now stop at the third floor, rather than extending to the full height of the building, and the balustrade of the rendering is nowhere in sight.

While the windows are in and the address is already on the front door, the facade is not quite done. The columns don’t reach the ground floor and the stoop and landing are not complete.

489 washington avenue

Few neighborhood residents had kind words for the design when the rendering appeared this past spring.

The designer told the Brooklyn Eagle back in April that “The client literally said, ‘I want the White House.'”

Walter J. Hollien Architects is the architect of record, and Beam Group, also known as J. Goldman Design, designed the exterior, the name on the rendering shows. The owner is listed as Ryan Garbo of Brooklyn-based GB Properties, who purchased the building in 2015 for $2.7 million.

brooklyn development clinton hill

A rendering by Beam Group on the construction fence around the site

An application for an alt-1 permit for the mansion was filed in 2014 — rather than demolition and new-building permits — which technically means some of the structure still survives. The revamped property will include 21 units.

489 washington avenue

The original house, “a survivor with a storied past,” as Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen put it, was likely built as the home for stockbroker Lascelles E. Maxwell and his wife, Grace Maxwell, in the early 1870s. In 1906, the house was transformed into a new home for the U.S. Grant Post 327 of the Grand Army of the Republic, later became a dance studio named Weber Studios, and was most recently owned by the Evergreen Church of God in Christ.

The house was not included within the boundaries of the Clinton Hill Historic District when it was designated in 1981.

[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]

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