LPC to Vote on Bedford Historic District, Wallabout House, Renken Dairy


The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on designating the proposed Bedford Historic District in the next year. The date has not yet been set, but the vote will take place in fiscal year 2016, which starts in July, the head of Community Board 3’s landmarking subcommittee told the assembled crowd at the monthly Community Board 3 meeting Monday night.

The hearing took place in October 2012, and neighborhood activists and preservationists have been waiting for a decision. The proposed district has been in the works for many years, and we have covered the effort extensively.

It consists of about 800 buildings in a western part of Bed Stuy between Bedford and Tompkins, and from Gates almost to Fulton. It includes well-known houses on the block Arlington Place, as well as several particularly fine and well-known blocks of Hancock Street.

The area includes houses and apartment buildings by many of the greats of 19th-century architecture in Brooklyn, including Montrose Morris and Amzi Hill. Above, a row of houses in the 200 block of Hancock, between Tompkins and Marcy.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission also plans to vote on two more significant individual buildings in Brooklyn on June 16, an LPC spokesman told us, although they are not listed on the LPC calendar.

Up for designation is the Henry and Susan McDonald House at 128 Clinton Avenue, in Wallabout. The freestanding wood-frame Italianate style house with Greek Revival elements, pictured below, was built for the couple between 1853 and 1854.

The commission also plans to vote on the Art Moderne-style MH Renken Dairy Company and Office Building at 582-584 Myrtle Avenue the same day. Hearings for both took place on Tuesday.

Like the proposed Bedford District, the Renken Dairy has also been under consideration for a long time. The planned votes show the LPC is moving to clear its backlog.

When the house at 128 Clinton Avenue was built, the area was being quickly developed after the expansion of the Navy Yard and Clinton Avenue was one of its premiere streets. After McDonald and his family sold the house, it was occupied by commodities broker-banker David S. Jones, attorney, later judge Edgar J. Phillips, and physician Domenick Candella.

Over time the house has only undergone small changes, including those to its front porch and stoop rails. Some moldings have been replaced and a fire escape added. According to the LPC report, “the McDonald House remains unusually intact and survives today as an important reminder of the early development of Wallabout.”

Martin H. Renken founded his dairy 1888 and moved it to this site in 1903. By the 1930s, it was the third largest dairy in the city, pasteurizing and bottling more than seven million quarts of milk a year.

In 1932, he built an office building on this site, and five years later he completed the renovation of a neighboring building at 580 Myrtle Avenue to house his engine room.  He extended the facade so both buildings looked like a single structure.

Bedford District Coverage [Brownstoner]
Renken Dairy Coverage [Brownstoner]


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