Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Row houses
Address: 1406-1422 Carroll Street
Cross Streets: Kingston and Albany Avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights South
Year Built: 1917
Architectural Style: Colonial Revival with Flemish details
Architect: Cantor & Dorfman
Other works by architect: Similar group of houses at 1-14 Martense Court, as well as apartment buildings, row houses, and other projects throughout southern Brooklyn
The story: Everyone is familiar with our traditional brownstones, limestones and brick row houses from the 19th century. They are all iconic elements of Brooklyn’s streetscapes. But housing construction did not end at the beginning of the 20th century, as demand continued in all parts of Brooklyn for single- and two-family houses.
Life in Brooklyn was evolving, however. Most of the older row houses were built with a live-in servant class in mind. But the middle-class homeowners in the 20th century did not typically have live-in help. They no longer needed dumbwaiters, butler’s pantries, maid’s rooms or formal double parlors.
Developers reported that their customers wanted smaller houses that had open spaces, more closets and more than one bathroom. They wanted electrical lights, modern appliances, and the greatest perk of the 20th century – off-street parking in their own garage.
Crown Heights is a wonderful microcosm of early 20th century development. Most of Crown Heights North’s row house stock was built in the last decade of the 19th century through the first decade of the 20th. As development moved south, across Eastern Parkway, the styles reflected the changes of the modern world.
The result is a wonderful hodgepodge of styles representing the creativity of early 20th century architects. Crown Heights South is also one of the few neighborhoods to have alleys and garages built into much of the street plan.
Map of Carroll Street, Crown Heights South, via PropertyShark
This group of nine houses was developed by Charles Goell, and built in 1917. Goell was a prolific developer in Crown Heights South, Flatbush, and East New York during the first 30 years of the 20th century. He came to New York from Russia as a teenager, and got into the building trades. By the age of 17, he was a construction foreman, and owned his own company soon afterward.
His company’s first projects involved the building of 350 houses in East New York and Brownsville. In 1915, one of his projects was 1-14 Martense Court in Flatbush. Those houses are very similar to these houses on Carroll Street. They were all designed by Cantor & Dorfman, a Brooklyn firm with offices at 375 Fulton Street.
Cantor & Dorfman worked with Goell on many of his projects. They were responsible for many similar houses in Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie as well. They were working at a time when Jewish architects and developers were rapidly expanding middle-class housing in Brooklyn, designing and building vast numbers of houses and apartment buildings.
1406 Carroll St.
The Carroll Street houses are in the Colonial Revival style, made of red brick with engineered stone trim. The cresting on the gables gives the houses a Flemish look, and other times and regions are hinted at by the Mediterranean tile roofs and the subdued classical ornament.
Charles Goell wrote in an ad in 1917 that these Carroll Street houses had 8 or 9 rooms, a sun parlor, sleeping porch, 2 baths, enclosed shower bath, and a two-car garage. He also noted that this was the “highest and finest part of Brooklyn, all improved and built up with high class homes.”
1412 Carroll Street
Goell was so enamored of his Carroll Street homes that he moved into one of them. He and his family lived at 1418 Carroll Street. It was a convenient location for him, as many of his projects were nearby, including a 54-room apartment building on the corner of Carroll and Albany. That building, called Kingsboro Court, is still there.
The Goell family was very active in Jewish charities and events. Charles was the chairman of the Building Committee of the Brooklyn Jewish Center on Eastern Parkway.
1422 Carroll Street
The newspapers noted that one of his daughters, Dorothy, graduated from Erasmus Hall High School at 16. She was the youngest student to be admitted to the 1924 freshman class at Vassar. Her sister Ruth was a senior, and was only 19.
The Goell family and their neighbors were typical of Goell’s target customer – first- or second-generation immigrant families, moving out of the Lower East Side or Williamsburg and into the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Upper Manhattan. He knew exactly what they wanted and how much they could pay, and he built accordingly.
Photo on Google Maps
This was part of the last phase of original row house development in Brooklyn. We’re only now realizing how diverse and inventive the designs of this housing stock are. Crown Heights South is a treasure trove of interesting housing built between 1915 and 1930.
All indvidual house photos: Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark.
Photo on Google Maps