Top 5 Stories on Brownstoner This Week: Jehovah’s Witnesses and Renovation Costs

Photo by Ensemble Architecture

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    How the Jehovah’s Witnesses Acquired Some of Brooklyn’s Most Insanely Valuable Properties
    The Jehovah’s Witnesses — aka the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society — first came to Brooklyn in 1908, in hopes of having their sermons syndicated in newspapers alongside the writings of the borough’s most famous pastors. It was under the Watchtower’s autocratic second leader, Joseph F. Rutherford, that the religious group truly began practicing the art of Brooklyn real estate.

    Photo by Ensemble Architecture

    Photo by Ensemble Architecture


    How Much Will My Home Renovation Cost, Anyway?
    Renovating a house can be one of those bank-account-draining experiences that make a designer shoe habit or dining in three-star restaurants look cheap in comparison. But how much does it cost — or should it cost — to renovate a home? Some believe a top-shelf Brooklyn townhouse renovation costs at least $1 million. But there’s also a vocal subset who hold fast to the idea that almost any house can be renovated for $200,000 — or less.

    East New York Brooklyn Landmark

    Photo of 135 Pennsylvania Avenue by Zulmilena Then


    Young East New York Native Fights to Preserve Neighborhood’s Historic Gems
    A young junior architect who grew up in East New York is leading the fight to landmark more than two dozen of the neighborhood’s architectural icons. Spurred into action by the destruction of the historic East New York Savings Bank and Mayor de Blasio’s controversial rezoning plan, Zulmilena Then founded Preserving East New York last year. Now with six members, the fledgling organization has caught the attention of the preservation nonprofit Historic Districts Council, which named East New York one of its 2016 “Six to Celebrate” earlier this month.

    Sunset Park Brooklyn Renovation Alexandra Barker

    Photo ©2015Francis Dzikowski/OTTO


    The Insider: Revamping a Sunset Park Row House for a Clean, Modern Look
    After a renovation she did appeared on Brownstoner three years ago, local architect Alexandra Barker of Barker Freeman “got a ton of work,” she said. “That was a brick row house in Windsor Terrace where I opened up the rear façade. People began calling and saying, ‘I want to open up the rear wall!’” Here, for a two-story Sunset Park wood-frame house, built around 1910, she did it again — a little differently this time.

    Entry of the Chiclet Mansion. Photo via 2013 listing

    Entry of the Chiclet Mansion. Photo via 2013 listing


    1880s House Envy: Reporter Visits “The Most Magnificent Private Residence in Brooklyn”
    Mention of the Gilded Age may conjure visions of Edith Wharton’s Manhattan, but there’s no better example of the era’s wealth and glamor east of the East River than Park Slope’s Chiclet Mansion. Built in 1889, the home’s extravagant details sealed its status as one of the city’s finest Romanesque Revival homes.

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