More development is coming to 4th Avenue and it may mean the loss of a 19th century meeting place for political big shots.
New building plans call for the demolition of the John Delmar Association building at 437 4th Avenue and a house next to it at 262 9th street to make way for the construction of a 11-story mixed-use building. Demolition applications were filed in June for both properties and a new building application filed in August, but no permits have been issued as of yet. A recent visit to the site showed that a construction fence is up around both properties, but work hasn’t commenced.
The John Delmar Association building was designed in 1875-1876 by George L. Morse. Described by Brownstoner’s Suzanne Spellen as “one of Brooklyn’s great architects,” Morse designed this building early in his career. He would go on to design a number of Downtown Brooklyn’s commercial buildings, including the Temple Bar building, the Abraham & Strauss annex and the Franklin Trust building.
The red brick Neo-Grec building he designed on 4th Avenue served as a club headquarters for the Democrats of Brooklyn’s 22nd Ward, named in honor of Judge John Delmar. A Brooklyn Daily Eagle article of 1875 noted that the John Delmar Association “includes in its membership nearly every man of prominence” in South Brooklyn.
The club spent $22,000 on constructing and furnishing their new headquarters, according to an in-depth 1877 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article about the group. Inside was a pier mirror “said to be the largest in Brooklyn,” billiard tables and card rooms for socializing.
The John Delmar Association outgrew the building in the 1890s and sold it to St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church across the street. The building was transformed from a meeting place for political dealing into a convent and then a school.
The church held on to the property until the 1980s when it sold it to Good Shepherd Services, which provided youth and family services in the building. After decades of ownership, they sold it and the house at 296 9th Street to Vibes of One LLC this July for $15.5 million.
According to the new building application, the 11-story structure will include 63 residential units along with ground floor commercial and a community facility. The architect of record is Thomas Scibilia of N.A Design Studio and the owner Joseph Banda of Vibes of One LLC.
Many 19th century buildings have been demolished to make way for 10- to 12-story apartment buildings along 4th Avenue since the corridor was rezoned in 2003. In the late 19th century the avenue was lined with flats buildings and landscaped with trees and a grassy meridian, which was demolished in 1915 to make way for the subway.
[Photos by Susan De Vries]
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