With hundreds of years of history behind its walls, this early 19th century Brooklyn Heights house is perhaps best known as the ‘Moonstruck’ house. The 1987 film used the exterior of 19 Cranberry Street as the home of the multi-generational Castorini family, and the surrounding area figured prominently in the movie along with stars Cher, Nicholas Cage and Olypmia Dukakis.
For film buffs, the interior won’t look familiar, as those scenes were filmed elsewhere. In real life, it’s a grand single-family filled with pristine-looking details such as pocket doors, moldings, mantels and ceiling medallions. Set on the prominent corner of Cranberry and Willow streets, the 26-foot-wide brick house was under wraps for a couple of years for a restoration project that included work on the mansard roof, the brownstone stoop and the ironwork fence. That mansard roof, complete with cresting, is a later 19th century addition to the circa 1830s house, bringing a Second Empire touch to the original Federal style house.
While the fictional Castorini family may be the one many associate with the property, some of the real owners who lived there over the building’s 180-plus years have some equally dramatic stories. The most extreme might be the 1880s scandal and drawn-out lawsuit over the house’s ownership after Dr. Herman Richardt was accused of having “complete control and mastery” over the mind of owner Catharine A. Valentine, resulting, her family alleged, in her handing over the deed to 19 Cranberry Street. The case was followed extensively in the press as competing interests fought for the property and the guardianship of her son, who was removed from her care over claims of an “illicit relationship.”
In more positive recent history, in 1961 the house was purchased by Edward and Francesca Rullman. An architect, Edward Rullman was chairman of the Brooklyn Heights Association’s Design Advisory Council and was active in the movement to designate the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. His decision to sell the house in 2008 after years of restoring it and more than 50 others in the neighborhood made the New York Times, with Mr. Rullman telling the paper, “We got 100 times what we paid for it back in 1961.”
It’s now on the market for the first time since that sale at an even more substantial price. The interior was also part of the recent renovation project, and the listing notes the house has a new steel infrastructure, a gym and wine cellar in a newly excavated cellar, and recently restored original details.
On the detail-filled parlor level there are pocket doors framed with Ionic pilasters between the double parlors, crown moldings and two dark marble mantels with fireplaces now in working order. Downstairs, the kitchen has been given a warm, aged look with vintage wood cabinets salvaged from an Ohio mansion to go along with exposed beams, a wood-burning stove, wide-planked floorboards and a banquette. There’s also a garden-facing wood-lined library with built-in bookshelves and a wood-burning stove.
Above the parlor floor is a bedroom suite with study, dressing room and impressive bath. The latter continues the vintage look with marble floors, a freestanding glass shower and separate soaking tub. Three more bedrooms and another full bath, this one covered in penny tile and with a walk-in shower and marble corner sink, make up the top floor. The house also has a laundry room and central air, according to the listing.
There is a driveway on the Willow Street side entrance to the property, and the floor plan shows a car parking space takes up less than a third of the backyard. The listing photo of the garden shows a terrace off the rear parlor, a brick-lined patio, and a concrete pad with a parked Vespa.
When the house last sold in 2008, it went for $3.85 million. The current ask is $12.85 million, and Karen Talbott and Kyle Talbott of Corcoran have the listing. Worth the ask?
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