A thorough renovation has given this 1870s brownstone some modern designer style alongside its historic character. Located in the Clinton Hill Historic District at 331 Washington Avenue, the house is across the street from Underwood Park and just a short walk away from the campus of Pratt Institute.
The brownstone is one of a row of three Neo-Grec houses built in 1878 for owner William C. Bowers. The row was designed by the Parfitt Brothers, according to the designation report. The architectural practice of the brothers was established around 1875, so this group is an example of their early work before their reputation was firmly established by their fine mansions of the 1880s. Measuring just over 17.5 feet wide, these brownstones have molded brownstone bands at the ground level, pedimented lintels at the parlor level, a pedimented and keystoned doorsurround, and a bracketed cornice.
By 1883 No. 331 was home to Edward D. and Mary W. Burt. Edward was in the shoe business, operating a retail store, E. D. Burt & Co., in Downtown Brooklyn that in 1875 claimed the motto “The best is the cheapest.” Some of the shoes carried were those manufactured by a family enterprise, Edwin C. Burt & Co., run by his cousin. The house the Burts purchased would have been “handsomely finished,” according to an 1879 advertisement, with paneling, a marble sink, sanitary plumbing and clothes presses. The Burt family lived in the house until Edward’s death in 1897. Records show that they made at least one change to the house during their residence, adding a two-story brick extension in 1889.
Much of the interior detail the Burt family would have enjoyed was still intact when Brownstoner featured the property back in 2014. After it sold, an extensive renovation by Michelle R. Smith of MRS Interiors included changes to the floor plan but retention of many of the original features. The finished product was featured in World of Interiors in February of 2018.
The parlor level retains its wainscoted entry with an arched niche, although a modern newel post stands out as a new addition. The neutral palette extends from the front parlor — with wood floors, moldings and a mantel — through to the kitchen at the rear. A floor plan switch during the reno moved the kitchen up from the garden level. The new eat-in kitchen has painted lower cabinets, a stove fitted into the original arched niche and a ceiling with its patina left deliberately intact. A dining room, pantry and half-bath are in the 1889 addition at the rear.
Upstairs are two floors of bedrooms, with the second floor dedicated to a master suite with a walk-in closet, a landscaped terrace and an en suite bath with marble walls and floors and a soaking tub. Two more bedrooms, two full baths and a laundry room make up the third floor.
The garden level, once occupied by the kitchen and dining room, now has a bedroom facing the street, a full bath, kitchenette and a living room at the rear. The walls of the rear addition were opened up to create a screened dining area, complete with banquette and access to the rear garden. The two-family house is currently set up as a single family, although with a kitchenette and full bath, the garden level is theoretically easily convertible to a separate unit.
The house last sold for $2.55 million in 2014. Listed with Karen Talbott of Corcoran it is now, post-renovation, on the market for $4.95 million. Worth the ask?
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