Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Earlier, More Residential 7th Avenue

As documented in the Brooklyn Eagle, a long row of twelve luxurious single-family dwellings was constructed in 1885 on the east side of 7th Avenue between Carroll and Garfield Streets by Henry S. Lansdell, whose work we have already noted in President Street. At $14,000 apiece ($16,000 for the corner house at Carroll Street), these were very expensive houses for 1885. The article describes the fine interior finishes at great length, and notes the expansive views toward the harbor offered by these houses built high up on the Park Slope:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 8, 1885 ("Houses")

Most of the buildings are still standing, but they were long ago reconfigured from single-family use to "flats over stores":

7th Avenue, Carroll Street to Garfield Place, east side - unprotected

We might find it surprising today that someone would have once built single-family residences in 7th Avenue, which is today an almost exclusively commercial street. No doubt when these buildings were constructed, however, Lansdell envisioned that 7th Avenue would become more like the street that 6th Avenue is today, with single family houses intermingled with mixed-use, commercial/residential buildings on the corners. We have already seen how C. B. Sheldon constructed in 1888-89 a primarily residential row of flats with corner store, just to the south of Lansdell's row.

It is likely that 7th Avenue "tipped" to exclusively commercial use quite early. Many of the buildings across the street were developed as mixed-use from the beginning, as opposed to starting out like Lansdell's row in single-family use and then having shops retrofit later into the first two floors.

Two of the buildings at the Carroll Street end of the row were later demolished to make way for the Chase Bank building that stands there now:

7th Avenue, Carroll Street to Garfield Place, east side - unprotected

The buildings are clearly "historic", although heavily modified. Are they worthy to be included in the Park Slope Historic District? We think so. One need only look to buildings further north in 7th Avenue, within the existing Historic District, to see that heavy modification is no impediment to inclusion in a historic district:

59-61 7th Avenue - Park Slope Historic District

54-52 7th Avenue - Park Slope Historic District

69-73 7th Avenue - Park Slope Historic District

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