Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2009 House Tour: 199 Berkeley Place

199 Berkeley Place is the second house from the west end of a row of eleven neo-Grec brownstones begun in 1883 by Brooklyn owner-architect J. Dougherty & Son.

The incised vertical lines on either side of the doorway, and the geometric styling of the brackets supporting the door hood, characterize the neo-Grec style, which was a reaction against the rounded, more naturalistic forms of the earlier Italianate style. This house retains the original iron cresting on the slab over the doorway, behind which stands a full-height window dropping all the way to the floor:

199 Berkeley Place - Park Slope Historic District

The 1897 Lain's Brooklyn Directory lists Louis E. Blackwell, a broker in business in New York, in residence at 199 Berkeley Place:

BLACKWELL Louis E. broker 54 B'way N. Y. h 199 Berkeley pl

Louis Blackwell could well have been the first owner of the house, and may have bought it with his young bride and a family in mind. An 1887 "help wanted" advertisement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, only a few years after the house was built, requests the services of a "nurse" who is instructed to apply at 199 Berkeley Place:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 14, 1887

By 1900, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, at least one son, Louis Blackwell, Jr., was old enough to accompany his parents to a "national dinner" featuring Japanese cuisine at the nearby Montauk Club. It was reported that "...the women to whom the doors of the club house were thrown open, were particularly enthusiastic in their praises of dinner and decorations."

Under the heading "Brooklyn Society", in the June 16, 1901 issue, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Mr. and Mrs. Louis E. Blackwell had taken up residence in West Islip, Long Island, for the summer.

Upon returning to the city that fall, Louis E. Blackwell sold his seat on the New York Stock Exchange:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 29, 1901

Perhaps he no longer required the position to support himself and his family, or perhaps his summer residence in the salutary ocean breezes of West Islip had left him less interested in his former career.

Louis Blackwell died in 1930, aged 79, having moved to East Orange, New Jersey. His New York Times obituary notes that he was descended from a former owner of Welfare Island (earlier Blackwell's Island, now Roosevelt Island) in the East River.

New York Times, September 17, 1930

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