Although many of Brooklyn’s historic bank buildings are quite large and very often quite impressive, that’s not always the case.
If you want to grab a glimpse of this elusive building, you have to plan a fall or winter walk past it, when the trees are leafless and at least portions of the red brick facade are visible amidst the evergreens and bare tree branches.
George Straub was a successful builder and developer by profession and in 1886 hired architect Theobald Engelhardt to design twin houses at 809 and 811 Willoughby Avenue.
We usually tend to think of Brooklyn Heights as a genteel and elegant neighborhood, totally forgetting about the part of the neighborhood that was anything but.
Affordable rents in the complex are close to market rate. Studios rent for $2,01 a month.
By the last two decades of the 19th century, most neighborhoods had multiple-unit buildings that were technically tenements by definition, but were certainly not slum buildings.
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Mixed-use commercial/residential buildings
Address: 905-907 Broadway
Cross Streets: Corner Arion Place
Year Built: 1884
Architectural Style: Italianate
Architect: Theobald Engelhardt
Other works by architect: Breweries, factories, warehouses, churches, row houses, flats buildings, free-standing mansions throughout Bushwick, eastern Bed Stuy and parts of Williamsburg. Also factories in Crown Heights, Brooklyn Heights
Landmarked: No, but should be
The story: These two mixed-use storefront and apartments building may look like the hundreds of similar buildings across the brownstone communities of Brooklyn, but these are something more. From the second floor of the corner building, No. 905, architect Theobald Engelhardt established his offices. From his work table came the plans for literally hundreds of buildings; buildings that would create neighborhoods.
Mr. Engelhardt appears in this column quite often, and with good reason. The man was prolific, he could design anything, and he was good. Bushwick, Williamsburg and eastern Bedford Stuyvesant would not look the same today if not for his talent.
Theobald Engelhardt was born here in Brooklyn, in Williamsburg, the son of Philip Engelhardt, a German builder and carpenter. The family had come to the United States from Baden, fleeing the German revolution that was taking place in 1848 and ’49. Thousands of Germans from many different city-states came to the U.S. during that period and settled everywhere from New York to Texas.
Young Theo was educated at the local Turn Verein, which his father had built. He went on to Brown’s Business School, and finally to Cooper Union, where he received his architectural certificate. He went back home to work with his father and get a lot of practical experience.
In the Eastern District, comprising the communities of Bushwick, Williamsburg and parts of Greenpoint, the name Theobald Engelhardt is almost synonymous with architecture.