Editor’s Note: This post originally ran in 2014 and has been updated. You can read the previous post here.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in Manhattan in 1866. It was established by Henry Bergh, and is the oldest animal protection society in the Western Hemisphere. Bergh believed that animals were entitled to respectful and kind treatment at the hands of people, and had to be protected under the law from those who acted differently.

brooklyn architecture 233 butler street gowanus aspca

A depiction of Henry Bergh halting an overcrowded streetcar in 1872. Image from ‘Harpers Weekly’ via New York Public Library

His initial efforts were in protecting horses from abuse, as well as trying to reform slaughterhouses and stop cock fighting. His cause was soon taken up by many. Only nine days after officially announcing his organization, Bergh was able to get the first anti-cruelty laws passed by the City.

The laws enabled the ASPCA to enforce those anti-cruelty laws, and with only a staff of three, the organization set out to do so, concentrating at first on those who abused horses and livestock. In 1867, they had special ambulance wagons for aiding and rescuing horses on the city streets, and also for rescuing cats, dogs and pigeons. By the time Henry Bergh died in 1888, 37 of the 38 states in the Union had ASPCA chapters and anti-cruelty laws on the books.

brooklyn architecture 233 butler street gowanus

Brooklyn opened its first chapter soon after Mr. Bergh established the Manhattan organization. He was a frequent speaker in Brooklyn, and often testified in matters of animal cruelty in Brooklyn. One such case in 1870 was regarding the sale of “swill milk” in Brooklyn. This was poor quality, contaminated milk produced by Brooklyn cows kept in inhumane conditions in the city, and then sold mostly to the poor.

brooklyn architecture 233 butler street gowanus aspca

The interior of 233 Butler Street in 1913. Photo via the ‘The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Forty-Eighth Annual Report

The first office of the ASPCA in Brooklyn was at 162-164 Carlton Avenue. They then had an office at 114 Lawrence Street, and it was from that location that they moved to 233 Butler Street in 1913. The Society was very popular with Brooklyn’s philanthropists, so when they needed a much larger building, they were fortunate enough to receive generous donations towards a new facility that would enable them to take care of Brooklyn’s abused and abandoned animals.

brooklyn architecture 233 butler street

The initial building in 1913, before expansion. Photo via the ‘The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Forty-Eighth Annual Report

The Society engaged the services of the architectural firm of Renwick, Aspinwall & Tucker. The firm was the successor to James Renwick, one of the 19th century’s most important and influential architects.

William Renwick was James’ nephew. His partners were James Lawrence Aspinwall and Fitz Henry Faye Tucker. Aspinwall was related to James Renwick by marriage. He and William Renwick were with the senior Renwick’s firm when James died, in 1895.

brooklyn architecture 233 butler street gowanus

Both were partners prior to James Renwick’s death, and both were independently fine architects. Not much is known about Tucker. The firm designed several of Manhattan’s most impressive early skyscrapers, including the landmarked American Express Building at 65 Broadway, which was designed by Aspinwall.

William Renwick continued the family tradition of fine Gothic Revival architecture by designing the Neighborhood House for Grace Church (Episcopal) on 13th and Broadway. That church was designed by James Renwick in 1846.

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Much of the money for the ASPCA building came from the Schermerhorn and Bowdoin families. Mrs. Edith Bowdoin, in addition to funding the construction of the building, also donated a granite horse trough that still stands in front of the building, although it has long ago been filled in. It must weigh a ton, and isn’t going anywhere.

Renwick et al designed a modest looking, but substantial building which ended up being larger than the ASPCA’s new shelter in Manhattan. Brooklyn rules! It had a formal lobby and a reception room.

brooklyn architecture 233 butler street gowanus

Ambulance drivers in front of the building in the early 20th century. Photo via ASPCA Archives

Despite its size, Sanborn maps show, by 1922 the building was expanded. It appears as if the original building, with its central arched brick entrance, was duplicated to the east. A doorway topped by the ASPCA seal was placed between the twin buildings. The building was also expanded upward, with one additional story topped by a cornice of brick arches.

brooklyn architecture 233 butler street gowanus

Ambulance drivers in front of the building in the early 20th century. Photo via ASPCA Archives

Although there were still plenty of horses in the city who often needed care, they were fast being replaced by trucks. Their first motorized rescue “ambulance” was a truck with a horse trailer that could rescue injured and maltreated horses.

Most of the ASPCA’s attention was now with smaller domestic animals like cats and dogs, along with occasional exotic animals like monkeys and snakes. As time passed, the horse drawn ambulance was replaced by a motor vehicle, which could carry cats and dogs and other small animals to the shelter. The roof of the new building was designed with a terrace that also functioned as a dog run. As a national and local organization, the ASPCA was a leader in veterinary medicine.

brooklyn architecture 233 butler street gowanus

For the next 66 years, this was the Brooklyn headquarters and shelter for the ASPCA. Pet adoptions took place here, and Brooklynites could also report animal abuse and turn in abandoned animals. They ran programs for children, with drawing and essay contests about taking care of and respecting all animals, and sponsored adult lectures, as well. The office could also issue dog licenses, and had a veterinary clinic.

In 1979, the ASPCA moved out of this facility. The organization is now located in Manhattan, with mobile spay and neuter clinics. Their Brooklyn facility on Linden Boulevard in East New York is now a part of New York City’s Department of Animal Care and Control.

The Butler Street building is one of many Gowanus properties in the midst of transition. Plans were filed in 2017 to convert the building into a retail and restaurant venue. According to the Department of Building records the first floor dog kennel space will become a cafe while elsewhere in the building there will be a taproom and commercial space. The existing tenant, RetroFret Vintage Guitars, will be staying put with instrument sales and repair spaces on the first floor and offices above, plans show.

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The architects behind a proposal for a top and rear addition to a commercial building at 135 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights need to come back and try again, the Landmarks Preservation Commission told them Tuesday.

The building, built between 1920 and 1929, was previously home to preppy clothing retailer Banana Republic, which closed in 2016. Currently, it houses chain urgent care clinic CityMD.

Eli M. Dweck is listed as the owner on property records.

brooklyn architecture 135 montague street

Photo by Susan De Vries

At the hearing, commissioners had a variety of suggestions for Marin Architects, the firm behind the project.

“I think the design is appropriate, but think [the addition] could be moved back,” Commissioner Michael Devonshire said. “And I would like to see it reduced by one story.”

Moving back the addition and seeing it reduced to one story was supported, to different degrees, by most of the commissioners, who thought one or the other might save the original building from being subsumed.

brooklyn architecture 135 montague street

Rendering by Marin Architects via New York Landmarks Preservation Commission

But others completely disagreed.

“I don’t think setting it back will do a thing,” said Commissioner Michael Goldblum. Instead, he suggested that the architects take a look at the color: instead of matching the existing building, he suggested making the addition darker, “purposefully contrasting with the landmarked building.”

Commissioner Wellington Chen suggested that setting the addition back might actually have the inverse effect, making it more prominently stand out.

brooklyn architecture 135 montague street rendering

Rendering by Marin Architects via New York Landmarks Preservation Commission

LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan’s suggestions were somewhere in the middle. She did not think setting the addition back would make a difference, but agreed with Devonshire that the size of the addition needed to be lowered to one story.

As for the idea of making the addition contrast with the original building, she had concerns. “I think it will be more jarring,” she said.

The architects have a number of different approaches to move forward, she concluded.

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The most popular listings on Brownstoner this week include a Clinton Hill condo in a historic mansion, a picturesque Chester Court house in Prospect Lefferts Gardens and an Arts and Crafts house in Windsor Terrace.

There were a couple of popular listings in Park Slope and Clinton Hill but other favorites are scattered across the borough. The least expensive of the group is a brick house in Marine Park at $799,000 and the most expensive a Park Slope flip at $3.995 million.

Which would you choose?

Longtime Owner Sells Flatbush Edwardian for $5.15 Million, Corner to Become Apartments

Back in November, a developer’s plan to replace a freestanding house at 100 Lenox Road in Flatbush with a block of modern apartments was suddenly halted, and they were looking to sell. On one side of the house, at 94 Lenox Road, is another freestanding house of the same era, in the same family for decades, according to public records.

Interior Design Ideas Ben Herzog Park Slope

Photo by Brett Beyer

The Insider: In Major Gut, Petite South Slope Wood Frame Gains Bright, Open Interior, Tons of Storage

This 16-foot-wide wood frame house was cramped and sagging, with sad vinyl siding, when it first came to the attention of South Slope-based Ben Herzog Architect (BHA). The 14-person firm, founded in 2009, expanded in 2014 to include a full-service interior design department.

upstate homes for sale 705 cherry alley hudson

A Quirky Carriage House in Hudson for $925K, Menagerie Not Included

No longer exactly a well-kept secret, Hudson, N.Y., nestled in the Hudson River Valley and benefiting from a train station, has a reputation as a bustling, artsy town with fabulous architecture. It’s packed with 19th century domestic buildings, so it’s easy to stumble across amazing examples of Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Second Empire (in various states of repair).

Brooklyn Apartments for Sale in Clinton Hill at 313 Clinton Avenue

Condo in Neo Grec Clinton Hill Mansion, Site of Popular Halloween Theatrics, Asks $2.65 Million

Here’s a condo with uncommon grandeur and a distinctive address. It occupies the parlor and garden floors of an 1882 Neo Grec mansion on Clinton Hill’s Mansion Row, at 313 Clinton Avenue, written up here as a Building of the Day. The house is notable for reasons beyond its architectural splendor: for over two decades it’s been the site of Halloween 313, a beloved neighborhood extravaganza.

gun control brooklyn student

Photo by Susan De Vries

Brooklyn Students Rally at Borough Hall to Protest Gun Violence

The roar of Brooklyn students could be heard echoing in Downtown Brooklyn this morning as middle and high school students began gathering to participate in the National School Walkout. Intended as a 17-minute protest across the country to commemorate the 17 students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month and demand gun control measures, the Brooklyn protest was still going strong after more than an hour.

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Despite using rubber mats to cover the hatches, homeowners are still getting water leaking into their cellar on rainy days. They are looking for tips on how they could fill in any gaps around the doors to provide further waterproofing.

Please chime in with your advice.


Need a professional opinion? Try Brownstoner Services, where you can talk to a concierge (it’s free) or browse our community of pros. >>


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All our open house picks run under $1 million this weekend, an event which would scarcely be worthy of note in Cleveland, Ohio, or Tucson, Ariz., but is an uncommon state of affairs here in Brooklyn. One comes in only a dollar under the million figure, but is below it nonetheless. And they’re all nice houses, though all but one need some work, and one needs quite a bit. Three of them are in close proximity to each other, in Flatbush and East Flatbush; the outlier is in Bed Stuy.

The first is a one-family Beaux-Arts/Arts & Crafts number with an angled bay front on Stephens Court in Flatbush. Built circa 1900, this one has plenty of rough edges, but it’s got a lot of original detail and could be polished up into something special by someone ready to take on a restoration project. There are parquet floors, pocket doors, stained glass, wood paneling, an entry mirror and a tiled mahogany fireplace. It’s a two-story with four bedrooms above and a living room, dining room and kitchen below; the basement holds a bathroom and laundry area. Everything in the house “is working and operating,” according to the listing.

Next up, a 19th-century brick Italianate on Park Avenue in Bed Stuy. This one likewise needs updating throughout, and likewise has some detail, though significantly less: a marble mantel, an original staircase. There’s some vintage wallpaper as well, though it’s not anything you’re likely to want to hold onto. It’s a three-story with a rental on the garden level and a three-bedroom, one-bath duplex above.

Returning to Flatbush, we find a one-family brick with a columned front porch, on Avenue D at the corner of East 25th Street. This one’s got some choice detail inside, and it’s in good condition. There’s a coffered dining room ceiling, pocket doors, parquet floors, leaded-glass windows, a tiled and mirrored mantel, the original staircase, built-in cabinetry and more. The kitchen and baths have been renovated, and it’s in move-in shape. There’s a four-bedroom duplex, a “mother-in-law suite” with a separate entrance below, and a double garage in back.

It’s a short trip to the final one, a semi-detached house on Farragut Road in East Flatbush. It’s an early 20th-century one-family with some lovely details, including parquet floors, paneling, and a fireplace; there’s also a vintage Chambers stove in the first-floor kitchen, which hasn’t been updated in many a decade. The upstairs of the two-family house has been, however; the listing says it’s completely renovated, with new floors, windows, doors, radiators and electric. The house has three bedrooms, a front sunroom, a driveway, and a shed that’s large enough to use as a garage.

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Flatbush, East Flatbush, Bed Stuy

6 Stephens Court
Price: $999,999
Area: Flatbush
Broker: Citi Habitats (Mordy Werde, Michael Ettelson)
Sunday 12-1:30 p.m.
See it here ->

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Flatbush, East Flatbush, Bed Stuy

881 Park Avenue
Price: $998,000
Area: Bed Stuy
Broker: Dorsa Group (Renee Dorsa)
Saturday and Sunday 12-1 p.m.
See it here ->


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Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Flatbush, East Flatbush, Bed Stuy

2423 Avenue D
Price: $899,000
Area: Flatbush
Broker: Fillmore (Marcia Melendez)
Saturday 1-3 p.m.
See it here ->

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Flatbush, East Flatbush, Bed Stuy

3316 Farragut Road
Price: $599,000
Area: East Flatbush
Broker: Space Marketing Shop (Pete Perez, Abisha Munroe)
Saturday 1-2:30 p.m.
See it here ->

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Here’s a look at how four of our featured listings from six months ago fared on the market.

First, a circa 1914 tan-brick Crown Heights row house with a center bay that’s a flip, but not your average one. At 1160 Union Street, the renovation was artist-designed (by “French artist Virginie Sommet,” per the listing), and has a modern feel and some non-standard features including a glass-walled floating wood staircase and a green wall (or “vertical garden”) in the rear. This former House of the Day sold in September for $2.15 million, which was $49,000 below the asking price.

Next, a Park Slope limestone on a park block that’s flat-out gorgeous, packed with details and spruced up by a high-end architectural renovation. Oh, and the sellers are Hollywood stars — John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, as reported by the Wall Street Journal and subsequently many another outlet. This former House of the Day entered contract in March.

After that, a Flatbush studio that seems a worthy starter apartment, with a modest but livable space, a low maintenance and a price tag under $200,000. It’s on the first floor of a prewar co-op building with 78 units at 3220 Avenue H, a block and a half off Flatbush Avenue near Brooklyn College. This former Co-op of the Day sold in February for $175,000, which was $14,000 below the asking price.

And to wrap it up, one of the highly coveted mews houses on Warren Place in the Cobble Hill Historic District. Need we say more? Actually, there’s not a whole lot more we can say based on photo evidence, but the listing tells us the 1878 house has been renovated within the last seven years, with new windows, a heating/cooling system, new mechanicals, upgraded electric and plumbing, a repointed facade and Viking appliances. This former Open House Pick sold in December for the asking price of $2.05 million.

brooklyn-homes-for-sale-crown-heights-1160-union-street-4

1160 Union Street
Price: $2.199 million
Area: Crown Heights
Broker: Sam Harris
See it here ->
Sold in September for $2.15 million

brooklyn-homes-for-sale-park-slope-586-4th-street-1

586 4th Street
Price: $8 Million
Area: Park Slope
Broker: Corcoran (Karen Talbott, Kyle Talbott)
See it here ->
Entered contract in March


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Brooklyn Apartments for Sale in Flatbush at 3220 Avenue H

3220 Avenue H #1G
Price: $189,000
Area: Flatbush
Broker: Douglas Elliman (Robert Nicoletti)
See it here ->
Sold in February for $175,000

Brooklyn homes for sale Cobble Hill 14 Warren Place

14 Warren Place
Price: $2.05 million
Area: Cobble Hill
Broker: Brooklyn Bridge (Ellen Gottlieb)
See it here ->
Sold in December

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Searching for Hudson River views, 19th century housing stock, proximity to cultural institutions and easy train access to the city? You may not think of Yonkers, but the Westchester County city has some rather grand digs worth a look.

With 17th century roots, Yonkers grew from a small farming and trading community into a center of commerce, industry and invention by the 20th century. Amongst the game-changing inventions born in the town in the 19th and 20th centuries were the safety elevator by Elisha Otis, the FM radio by Major Edwin Howard Armstrong and Bakelite by Leo Baekeland.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

The houses of Hudson Terrace from an 1899 birds-eye view of Yonkers. Map by Landis and Hughes via Library of Congress

North of the downtown core, Yonkers was dominated by country estates in the mid 19th century, with houses perched to take advantage of the amazing Hudson River Views. The proximity of Glenwood Station meant an easy commute to the city, and by the late 19th century many of the estates were being carved up into smaller development plots. The homes that replaced the grand manors were not exactly modest little dwellings themselves.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

The house circa 1902. Photo by A.V.Card from “Yonkers Illustrated”

One such house is on the market — 101 Hudson Terrace, built circa 1893 on land that was once part of the Shonnard Estate. From at least 1895 until 1920, the house was the home of Duncan and Charlotte Smith. Duncan was a lawyer in Manhattan, but quite active in Yonkers — he was elected the first president of the consolidated Yonkers Board of Education in 1881.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

Hopefully the pair took maximum advantage of the stunning views to hold elegant soirees in the roughly 3,885 square foot house. They certainly had plenty of rooms to fill with guests. Despite the space, it was not brimming with full-time residents — the 1900 census shows just the two of them in the house with one live-in servant. Duncan died in 1919, and after Charlotte’s death in 1920, the house was sold to another family.

While the house now has clapboard, a historic image taken within a decade of construction shows it was originally shingled. The architect is unidentified, but clearly embraced the Colonial Revival movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, designing a home that includes swan-neck pediments, Palladian windows, fanlights and pilasters.

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The revival theme continues inside with an impressive foyer with keystoned arches, ionic columns and dentil molding.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

On the main level, there’s plenty of entertainment space brimming with historic detail. The dining room has one of the eight fireplaces found in the house as well as leaded glass windows and original moldings.

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There are two parlors — now living and family rooms — and a sunroom for year-round enjoyment of the Hudson River views.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

The kitchen has been modernized, but the white cabinets — some with leaded glass fronts — wood floors, white subway tile and built-ins fit with the historic details elsewhere in the house.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

There’s a half bath tucked under the staircase that’s decked out with more leaded glass, panelling and enough bookshelves to keep plenty of reading material at hand.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

The main staircase has a dramatic two-story bay-window with softly colored stained glass open to the second floor landing.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

Upstairs you’ll find four bedrooms, including a master with an en-suite bath. Each of the bedrooms has a fireplace.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

There’s a total of three full and two half baths in the house. Like the kitchen, they’ve had some upgrades in keeping with the spirit of the house.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

On the third floor there’s now a playroom, bedroom, kitchen and another full bath. The setup could be used as a guest suite but was probably originally the servants quarters for live-in help like Bella Dixon, the Irish servant who worked for the Smith family in 1900.

upstate homes for sale 101 hudson terrace yonkers

Outside there’s a two-car garage, a patio, kitchen garden and a pool with its own impressive views of the river.

The house is listed for $1.65 million by Hilary Levy of Coldwell Banker.

upstate homes for sale 101 Hudson terrace yonkers

If the pool and view are not enough to keep you entertained, the house is close to Untermeyer Gardens, a public garden on the former Samuel Untermeyer estate. While the house, Greystone, was demolished, the city owns 43 acres of land with a walled garden, wooded trails and amazing vistas of the Hudson.

Also within easy distance is the Hudson River Museum, with art and history exhibitions as well as a planetarium. There’s also a period house on the campus, the impressive 1877 Glenview Mansion.

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