Brooklyn Heights Blog contributor Karl Junkersfeld has filmed the complete reconstruction of a 19th-century Greek Revival clapboard house at 55 Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights. Owner and architect R.A. Somerby gutted the interior of the decrepit house and re-created the exterior based on its 1920s tax photo, which is included around the 4:55 mark in the video.

Most of the home’s historic detail had been stripped over the years, and Somerby decided to build a stoop based on the building’s original design. He also added several more windows and installed round ones on the front of the house in an homage to the Greek Revival style. However, the interior of the new home is modern, with large front windows on the parlor floor and a relatively open-plan kitchen and living room.


The Insider, Brownstoner’s weekly look at how Brooklynites are renovating and decorating their homes, appears here every Thursday at 11:30AM. It is written and produced by Cara Greenberg, a design journalist who blogs at casaCARA: Old Houses for Fun and Profit.

The classic Greek Revival townhouse was in need of a major overhaul when Brendan Coburn of CWB Architects came on the scene. “The brick was good,” he recalls. “Whoever the mason was in the 1840s knew what he was doing.” But the rest of the house was “sagging all over the place,” with wood and plaster detail in sorry shape, and an addition at the back that was literally falling down.

The homeowners, a couple with young children, wanted to fully restore the building, keeping its original one-family configuration. This was accomplished with the help of Pilaster, Inc., a Bronx-based general contracting and millwork company. Among the major aspects of the job: excavating three feet from the low-ceilinged cellar to accommodate fitness equipment and storage, and rebuilding the entire floor structure with LVL (laminated wood lumber), an engineered joist made of recycled wood. Then came new baths and kitchen, a rebuilt extension, new windows and French doors, and “tons of millwork and cabinetry.” Original wood detail was copied and replaced, plaster moldings re-cast. “There is not a single compromise in that house,” Coburn says.

The risk-taking decor by Brooklyn-based interior designer Jennifer Eisenstadt might be called ‘bold traditional.’ Taken individually, she says, “Most pieces are fairly traditional. It’s the combination that makes it interesting.” Like Coburn, who often works in a modern mode, Eisenstadt is versatile; she doesn’t have a specific style. “I try to give clients the best of what they’re looking for,” she says, “and help articulate their tastes and visions in cohesive ways.”

Top: A laundry room and butler’s pantry for outdoor entertaining are located in an extension at the back of the house.

Photos copyright Francis Dzikowski/

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