“A man is not a whole and complete man unless he owns a house and the land it stands on,” wrote poet and Brooklyn Daily Eagle editor Walt Whitman, in a rather searing and timeless 1856 appraisal of New York real estate. Fast forward to 2019 and the apartment now for sale where the Eagle’s former headquarters stood.
Apartment 4J is a one-bedroom co-op overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge in the Eagle Warehouse & Storage Building, built on the site of the old headquarters where Whitman edited the paper from 1846 to 1848. The 1893 warehouse incorporates the Eagle’s press room, which can be seen on the corner of Elizabeth and Doughty. The building, thankfully, is landmarked, and was converted into cooperative housing.
The apartment in question measures 1,120 square feet with 12-foot ceilings, and includes closets, a lofted storage area and a relatively new kitchen with all of the trimmings expected in our age — the stainless steel appliances, the quartz counters, etc., etc. In the bathroom is an up-to-date sink cabinet with retro faucet, vintage-style subway tile, and a glass-walled step-in shower.
The unit has a typical layout with open-plan kitchen overlooking a combination living-dining area. It’s pretty much a white box except for exposed brick and beams. The kitchen has black and white cabinetry and a tile backsplash with a subtle floral design. Two of the three closets are of the walk-in size. The ceiling in the loft is 5 feet 3 inches, so perhaps best used for storage but could serve as guest quarters for a spry visitor.
The building itself is considered a masterpiece by Frank Freeman, thought perhaps the greatest Brooklyn architect by historians — or at least so says the plaque on the front. Christopher Gray, the late Times architectural historian certainly thought so, describing the Richardson Romanesque structure as a “medieval brick fortress [that] recalls the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, with a massive entry arch, barred windows and a machiocolated cornice.” Much of Freeman’s other work was not so lucky, suffering erasure in one of the uglier periods of mid-20th century modernity.
Located in the Fulton Ferry Historic District (the address is identified in the designation report as 28 Cadman Plaza West), it was converted into an 84-unit co-op in 1979. Paperwork filed with the state attorney general indicates the adaptive re-use work by Rothzeid Kaiserman & Thomson (now RKTB) was completed and accepted by 1984.
This unit is now on the market for $1.22 million, with a monthly maintenance fee of $1,336. Michael Coleman and Robert Donohoe of Corcoran are handling the listing. The location, on the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park, is certainly glorious. How much of a premium for its unique history?
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