Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Columbia

On the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and Union Street stands an old, mixed-use building with three floors of apartments over ground-floor shops, and a full-height, three-sided bay window running up the side facade in Union Street. This building stands just outside the Park Slope Historic District boundary:

7th Avenue and Union Street ("Columbia") - unprotected

The building is in remarkable condition, including an unaltered main doorway with what appears to be original ironwork beside the low stoop:


The upper stories feature a wealth of ornate details including intricate brickwork, stone lintels and columns, and enormous terra cotta panels set into "blind" windows:


According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the building was erected in 1886 for Henry Niemitz, a grocer, who operated his store in the first floor and lived in one of the upstairs apartments. Each upper floor held a "double flat", or two apartments per floor, for a total of six dwellings:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 1, 1886, p. 4 ("A Great Gain")

The date of the article matches a date at the top of the building, set into yet another glorious terra cotta panel:


Even the stable noted in the Eagle article appears to be extant, just west of the main building:


In fact, the uniform awnings and color scheme (the same red with yellow trim) on both buildings suggest that this wonderful ensemble may still be under the same ownership, 123 years later!

In 1889, a dollar went a long way at Mr. Niemitz's store:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 16, 1889, p. 4

UPDATE: How can we be sure that all this refers to the northwest corner of Union St., as opposed to some other corner? The Brooklyn Daily Eagle of March 20, 1889 carries an article about "strange doings" in a house at 158 Berkeley Place ("She Denies It", p. 6) in which the reporter quotes Henry Niemitz, "the grocer at Seventh avenue and Union street", and states that "the rear of his house overlooks the rear of 158 Berkeley place." Berkeley Place is of course north of Union Street, and 158 Berkeley Place is west of Seventh Avenue. Case closed!

1 comment:

Eric said...

And to think just 120 years later, I can get one small cup of cocoa for about $4 at Cocoa Bar, just 600x the price Mr. Niemetz charged.

Of course, I don't have to make it myself.