On the exterior, this 1820s Brooklyn Heights home has the picturesque silhouette of a Federal-style row house, including a tidy Flemish bond brick facade topped with dormers. In addition to its 19th century charms, the single-family home also has a 20th century Brooklyn history link as the long-time home of landscape architect Alice Recknagel Ireys.
Located in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, 45 Willow Street dates to circa 1824, according to the LPC Landmarks Map, although a small plaque on the facade claims a slightly earlier date of circa 1820. The house hasn’t changed much on the exterior since it was snapped for the circa 1940 tax photo, when it was already the home of the Recknagel family. Ireys, whose work included designs for playgrounds and public housing projects in the city, grew up in the family home and eventually established her practice in the house after her marriage. In the 1950s she created the Fragrance Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, designed for the visually impaired. No. 45 was her home until her death in 2000.
On the interior, the house has had some renovations over its many decades. But there are still some stylistic elements of the early 19th century to be found, including the newel post and stair, and moldings in the double parlors. A small powder room is tucked into a closet, and for convenience, there is a butler’s pantry at the rear complete with a sink and wine fridge, and access to the rear garden.
The main kitchen and dining room are on the garden level where a wall of glass gives another vantage point from which to admire the garden, which is still the two-tiered landscape designed by Ireys. A restoration by RKLA Studio included the addition of two curved staircases to connect the parlor and garden levels to the garden.
The upper two floors include five bedrooms, three with mantels, and a full bath per floor. There is also a petite, windowed home office that looks out onto the garden.
The house last sold in 2006 for $4.495 million although it was on and off the market in 2017. It’s now listed with Ravi Kantha, Matthew Lesser, Gian Mitchell and Cameron LeCates from Leslie J. Garfield for $7.495 million. Worth the ask?
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