Scaffolding Comes Down at Historic Heights Frame House After Loss of Original Walls

The scaffolding is down at 59 Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights, revealing a large rear lot extension and front facade work on its way towards completion.

Originally built in 1832, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the wood-frame house unexpectedly lost sections of its original walls, covered in non-historic siding, last spring. While LPC had approved a rooftop addition and rear extension — both clearly visible from the street — the complete removal of portions of the exterior walls was done without approval.

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In May 2017, LPC issued a warning letter regarding the unauthorized changes and representatives on behalf of owners Brenda Walker and Jennifer Robertson, under the name 59 Middagh LLC, presented an amended application to justify the work. Following further inspection, the commission found “that the removal of walls and structure appears to have been warranted by deteriorated conditions documented in submitted materials.”

The new Certificate of Appropriateness issued did note that the warning letter would stay in effect until the completion of corrective work — however, it does not appear that any penalty was put in place by LPC.

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The house in May 2017

At the same time that LPC was reviewing the unauthorized work, the Department of Buildings issued a stop work order because of safety issues, including no guard rails around the end of the building, openings in the floor and excessive debris. The owners received an Environmental Control Board (ECB) violation and were fined $25,000. The violations were resolved, and a hearing was set for December 2017. The fine was subsequently dropped to $10,030, according to ECB records.

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The house will receive new cement-fiber clapboard in place of the non-historic clapboard that was there before.

Transforming a multi-family home into a single-family residence is an ongoing trend in Brooklyn, as is the enlargement of houses via extensive rear and rooftop additions.

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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