Building of the Day: 67 Hanson Place, Part of an Art Deco Doctor’s Skyscraper Colony

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

When the iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building was being built in 1927, it became a beacon, surrounded by other Art Deco buildings. This apartment building was one of them, dwarfing its brownstone neighbors.

Name: Originally the Doctors and Dentists Office Building; now apartments
Address: 67 Hanson Place
Cross Streets: Corner of South Elliott Place
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Year Built: 1929
Architectural Style: Art Deco
Architect: W.T. McCarthy and Murray Klein
Other Works by Architects: McCarthy: 13-15 Prospect Park West, Cathedral Arms and Chateau Frontenac apartment buildings in Flatbush, houses in Gowanus and Red Hook, and Concord Village apartment buildings. Klein: Storefront at Ashland and Lafayette (demolished), Avenue U Theater, row of store buildings on Flatbush Avenue near Church Avenue, Times Plaza Hotel on Atlantic Avenue, and apartment buildings in Manhattan.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District (1978)

The Doctors and Dentists Building

This Art Deco apartment building replaced a smaller office building built only 19 years before, in 1910. That six-story building was called the Doctors and Dentists Building, developed by a consortium of physicians and hailed as the first of its kind in Brooklyn.

The building was built with two- and three-room suites, with an examination room, toilet, private vestibule and reception room in each suite. The first tenants had the option of combining suites for a larger office.

Because doctors were involved from the beginning, each suite had the capacity for state-of-the-art medical equipment and features. They quickly rented out.

Fort Greene Brooklyn -- 67 Hanson Pl History

Doctors and Dentists Building in 1911. Photo via Brooklyn Eagle

The Doctors and Dentists Building was conveniently located at Brooklyn’s greatest transportation hub. The LIRR and two elevated train lines were around the corner on Flatbush Avenue, and almost all of the city’s trolleys ran nearby.

The business model was certainly a sound one. However, when the building was sold at auction in 1929, the new owners immediately tore the building down — as well as a few adjoining brownstones — and began construction on this much taller apartment building.

Fort Greene Brooklyn -- 67 Hanson Pl History

1921 Brooklyn Eagle ad for first D & D Building

The Architects of the New 67 Hanson Place

Both William T. McCarthy and Murray Klein are credited for this building, although the newspapers only mention Klein. Perhaps McCarthy’s work was more on the interior aspects.

Both architects were very proficient at designing 20th-century pre-war apartments. McCarthy was the architect of the Chateau Frontenac Apartments in Flatbush, near Prospect Park. This was one of the largest and most ornate 1920s apartment buildings in Brooklyn, replacing most of Tennis Court, Flatbush’s first suburban enclave.

Klein was an old hand at apartments and hotels, as well. Only blocks away from this building still stands his Times Plaza Hotel, now the Muhlenberg Residence, on Atlantic Avenue. He also designed several other apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Fort Greene Brooklyn -- 67 Hanson Pl History

1930 Brooklyn Eagle ad

Brooklyn’s Art Deco Hub

The idea of a doctors’ building here was still very good, and the developers of the new 67 Hanson Place — the Hanson Place Elliot Corporation — were led by Dr. Lewis Silverman, a dentist. The new building would also have doctors’ offices on the first few floors. Dr. Silverman and his wife took apartments in the building as well.

The building began running ads for tenants in 1930. The area was developing as both a convenient location for medical professionals, as well as for tall Art Deco buildings. Most prominent, of course, was the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building, which was also completed in 1930.

Fort Greene Brooklyn -- 67 Hanson Pl History

1930 Brooklyn Eagle article featuring the new construction

In addition, several Art Deco hotels were built near the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, as well as a Deco school building, the Times printing building, and the Central Methodist Church, next door to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building.

62 Hanson Place, across the street, was built up from six stories to 12, with the first six floors reserved for medical offices, as well. Interestingly, after everyone settled in, the bank building attracted the dentists, while 67 Hanson became home to the physicians, with a mixture of both at 62 Hanson.

Fort Greene Brooklyn -- 67 Hanson Pl History

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

The Williamsburg Bank Building was not residential at the time, but both 62 and 67 Hanson Place were. Throughout the 1930s, 67 Hanson Place advertised one- and two-room apartments with kitchenettes and a bathroom for rent, starting at $45 month and rising to $65. The apartments featured free gas, cooking and refrigeration, with Electrolux appliances.

From the number of doctors, dentists and other professionals living in the building, it is likely many of them combined smaller apartments, especially on the upper penthouse levels. The entrance to the building, and some of the exterior, has Gothic detailing, a feature often found in conjunction with Art Deco. It works wonderfully, taking some of the hard edges off the building.

Fort Greene Brooklyn -- 67 Hanson Pl History

Photo via BEC New Communities

Present-Day Use

Today, the building is completely residential, with 103 units. It now is the flagship property and headquarters of BEC (Brooklyn Ecumenical Cooperatives) New Communities Development Corp. This organization was founded in 1984 to foster community empowerment through affordable housing and economic development programs.

They purchase formerly city-owned buildings and renovated them into housing, reselling houses and establishing affordable rental and co-op buildings. BEC owns and manages holdings mostly in Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights and Flatbush.

This building was formerly owned by the city and was purchased for just over $6 million. BEC finished rehabbing this building in 1999.

Fort Greene Brooklyn -- 67 Hanson Pl History

Photo via BEC New Communities

Fort Greene Brooklyn -- 67 Hanson Pl History

Photo via Beyond My Ken for Wikimedia Commons

[Top photo: Christopher Bride for PropertyShark]

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