Clinton Hill Mansion With Vintage Otis Elevator, Bathing Room, Parking Asks $13.5 Million

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This Queen Anne brownstone at 280 Washington Avenue in the Clinton Hill Historic District is not your everyday run-of-the-mill mansion. For starters, there’s the extravagance of its original architecture. Add to that a colorful history and stunning recent renovation.

It’s known as the Pfizer Mansion though no Pfizer ever lived there. The home is one of a pair of houses designed in 1887 by Marshall J. Morrill for Charles Erhart, one of the Pfizer co-founders.

One of his daughters lived in the place, and after that it was used by the Brooklyn Public Library and as a Catholic girls school. Eventually a musician bought it and one of the members of Killing Joke lived there, the sellers told Brownstoner.

The home’s current owners are well known in the neighborhood and to Brownstoner readers for hosting musical and other events at their home and helping get Clinton Hill’s Greene Hill Food Co-op off the ground. Brownstoner has written about the home numerous times previously, including in the instance when the owners found historic artifacts while doing the renovation. The property is also special enough to have merited its own recent writeup in the New York Times.

The 25-foot-wide home easily covers the period detail basics — stained glass, eight wood-burning fireplaces, leaded glass windows, arched nooks, transoms — and reaches to jaw dropping heights in the level of unique detail. Singular features include a vintage Otis elevator and a room papered in hand-painted de Gournay wallpaper that holds only a bathtub, among others.

Get lost in the intricate plaster, moldings and columns in the front living room once you’ve torn your eyes from the unusually intricate original inlaid parquet floors. The middle parlor also holds a remarkable example of inlay work on its floor, which one of the owners designed herself.

The parlor level reaches back through two more living areas areas to an eat-in kitchen in the rear where a conservatory once stood. In homage, the kitchen has a greenhouse-like curved wall of windows and a 30-foot standing-seam copper dome roof. It also has custom cabinetry, radiant heat, and a view of the landscaped backyard.

There is also parking back there — the property goes all the way through the block.


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The listing photos hardly do the upper floors justice, with no picture of the bathing room, nor the skylit curved steel and wood staircase (one of two staircases in the house). The former has the de Gournay wallpaper, one of the aforementioned wood burning fireplaces, and a tub in the center of it all. Even the laundry room is skylit.

The basement is given over to other sybaritic themes: There is a wet bar with an unusual stone backsplash and sinks, a wine cellar and a “lounge” that has hosted many a musical performance.

As for the mechanicals, there is central air and updated electric and plumbing. The brownstone facade has been redone. There are “custom and pedigreed vintage lighting” fixtures throughout, as the listing puts it.

The street, if you don’t already know, is one of the best in Brooklyn, and the focus of Clinton Hill’s annual Halloween fest. The house is 3.5 blocks from the G train at the Clinton-Washington station.

Listed by Brown Harris Stevens’ Angela Ferrante, the house is asking $13.5 million. It’s worth noting not many Brooklyn homes sell for more than $10 million. Think this one will?

[Listing: 280 Washington Avenue | Broker: Brown Harris Stevens] GMAP

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