Overwrought Victorian vs. Basic Modern Box: Weighing the Past and Present of 70 Clark Street

70 Clark Street then and now. Postcard via Andrew Porter. Photo by Barbara Eldredge

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If you’re into over-the-top Victorian architecture, you would have loved the Sands Street Memorial Church, which once stood at the corner of Henry and Clark streets in Brooklyn Heights. But if standard “apartment modern” is more your style, then the church’s 1948 replacement just might float your boat.

Old or new(er)? Which do you prefer?

When Brownstoner historian Suzanne Spellen wrote of the boxy banded apartment building currently at the spot, she deemed it “not an award winner, but a perfectly decent building.” The lower floor was home to a beloved neighborhood drug store and soda shop for many years.

But the long-gone sandstone church, with its ornament-topped pinnacles and circular stained-glass windows, holds an appeal all its own. One expressive commenter called the long-gone building “a wild turreted affair. Really bonkers in a high Victorian manner.”

The church was designed by architect John Welch. His still-standing Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew Episcopal in Clinton Hill can give you another taste of the flavor of the Sands Street Memorial.

According to Robert Furman in Brooklyn Heights: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of America’s First Suburb, the church came to the neighborhood from Sands Street in 1889. But after its membership declined over the years, it was sold and torn down in 1947 for the International Style apartment building there today.

Brooklyn History

70 Clark Street. Postcard via Andrew Porter

Brooklyn History

70 Clark Street. Photo by Barbara Eldredge

Related Stories
Past and Present at 70 Clark Street — Apartments and Drug Store
The Most Glorious Sacred Spaces in Brooklyn
John Welch Church Site Not for Sale in Clinton Hill

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