Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Louis Bonert: 6th Avenue & 2nd Street, 1896

In 1896, Park Slope builder Louis Bonert is issued a building permit for a row of four four-story, four-family buildings on the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and 2nd Street:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 1, 1896, p. 13 ("Real Estate Market")

After building, as we have seen, a great many brick-faced apartment houses in previous years, Bonert here develops a handsome group of limestone-faced, bow-front apartment houses, in a new building style pioneered the previous year at the northwest corner of 6th Avenue and 3rd Street. But whereas previously he tested the market with only a single new building in this style, he here employs the new style to create an entire block of apartments:

6th Avenue & 2nd Street, southeast corner - unprotected

Note how his older style persists on the side elevation: as we have seen so many times previously, it is characterized by "fancy brick" with brownstone trim, arched windows at the top floor, and terra cotta spandrel panels beneath the windows.

The front facade, fully clad in stone with almost no ornament, is more austere, and more formal at the same time. Bonert here introduces the unusual window hoods that will become almost a kind of "signature" in his later buildings:

307-309 6th Avenue - detail

The row continues in the next two buildings:

611-613 6th Avenue - unprotected

The original permit was for the four buildings shown above. However, continuing down the block, it is clear that the entire block all the way to 3rd Street was developed by Bonert in the same style. The building facades are nearly identical with those above, with slight differences in the detailing of the windows and doorways:

615-617 6th Avenue - unprotected

319 6th Avenue - unprotected

With this new style of apartment house, Bonert dispenses with the inset Romanesque clustered columns employed beside the doorway in his earlier apartments, striking instead a more purely classical note:

317 6th Avenue - detail

The Brooklyn Eagle records that Bonert sold one of these apartment houses in 1899:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 27, 1899, p. 14 ("Real Estate Market")

This more formal, stone-faced "flat house" will become Bonert's new standard housing style in the next few years in Park Slope.


J$ said...

the last building pictured (corner of 3rd st) always intrigues me due to the false windows facade covering the gap between it and the next building. i think it's a pretty unique feature in this area.

HDEC said...

Indeed, thanks for pointing out that feature. I had thought of mentioning it, but frankly I'm not sure why that gap is there. Probably has something to do with building codes, and the minimum amount of light and air required for the rooms in the corner building.

I do think the feature reflects the care that Bonert lavished on his buildings... he didn't just leave a gap. He dressed it up a little with the false facade, bridging the gap between the two buildings.