Past and Present: The Pierrepont Mansion


    A Look at Brooklyn, then and now.

    The Pierrepont’s were arguably the most important family in Brooklyn Heights in the 19th century. The family was from New England originally, and James Pierrepont, the patriarch of the family was a minister. He was actually one of the three ministers who founded Yale College in 1700. His descendants were successful and wealthy financiers and landowners. The first Pierrepont to live in Brooklyn was Hezekiah Pierrepont, who came here in 1804. His second son was Henry Evelyn Pierrepont, the most well-known member of the family, who was extremely dedicated to Brooklyn, and as a city planner was responsible for the creation of

    Green-Wood Cemetery, as well as the layout of streets and public spaces. It was he who built up the retaining wall that held up the Heights, separating it from the waterfront area below, long before the creation of the BQE and the Promenade.

    Henry Pierrepont had his house built atop this embankment, near the intersection of two streets that bear his name. The large and grand mansion at One Pierrepont Place was designed by Richard Upjohn, one of Brooklyn’s finest architects, who is best known for his Heights churches, such as the Church of the Pilgrims and Grace Church. The house stood proudly until 1946, when it was demolished for the children’s playground, part of Robert Moses’ plan to reshape Brooklyn Heights. The house was lost to the playground as a compromise to assure the preservation of the rest of the houses on that block, and to create the Esplanade above the BQE. Robert Moses loved playgrounds.

    Photo: NY Public Library

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