Buyers in the early 20th century were assured that housekeeping would be easy with the purchase of this bow-fronted house in Crown Heights. While amenities necessary to draw homebuyers have changed in the 21st century, this single-family home at 1194 Union Street has some attractive vintage features like pocket doors, moldings and wood floors along with some updates to the bathrooms and kitchen.
The house and its neighbors along the block were constructed by Realty Associates, builders of “Easy Housekeeping Homes.” The company started pitching their homes around 1910 with catchy ad lines like “servant problem solved” and “why women like these houses.” With modern amenities and practical layouts, the houses were meant to lure Brooklynites looking for an opportunity to own their own home without the need for servants to keep things running.
The newly finished row on Union Street was first advertised in 1914 with the not-so-humble description of the houses as “the most successful type of dwelling ever built in Brooklyn.” Inducements for buyers included stone fronts, porches on front and rear, hot water heat, hardwood floors, a tiled mantel and hearth, and electric lights.
The row, bow fronted with minimal classical detailing, has largely survived. No. 1194 has a single decorative panel ornamenting the facade, an entry with pilasters topped with foliate ornament and a bracketed cornice.
In the same family for more than 50 years before it sold in 2016, the house was subsequently renovated and has updated bathrooms, a new open-plan kitchen, and a white and pale gray color scheme. The parlor floor still has original details, including pocket doors between the entry and parlor, parquet floors with a decorative border, wall moldings and picture rails. The tile mantel and hearth advertised in 1914 is still there in the middle parlor, complete with the original insert, medieval-inspired ironwork and built-in shelves on either side.
In the rear of the house is the open kitchen and dining area with a large wood island dividing the two. The Shaker-style cabinets have a mix of wood, painted and glass fronts. There are stone counters, a pot filler above the stove and stainless steel appliances. Two sets of French doors lead out to a deck. Recessed lighting has been added throughout the first floor.
The three bedrooms upstairs, all with parquet floors, include a master in the front bay with a dressing area with built-in storage and an en suite bath. It’s the only bathroom pictured and it has a shower, neutral floor and wall tiles, a wood vanity and brass fittings. Another full bath with a skylight is shared by the two bedrooms at the rear.
The last of the house’s three full baths is in the finished basement, along with laundry, a recreation space and a home office.
A fully landscaped rear yard includes a stone patio, wood fencing and stone-trimmed planting beds along the sides.
In addition to the new interior finishes, the reno included installation of central air conditioning and new wiring for outdoor speakers and Internet wall jacks.
Before the renovation, the house sold in 2016 for $1.4 million. Listed with Justine Lee-Mills of Corcoran, it’s now on the market for $2.25 million. Worth the ask?
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