Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Louis Bonert, 6th Avenue & 4th Street, northeast corner

We have been following the evolution of Louis Bonert's four-story, four-family apartment houses in Park Slope. His earlier style often features three stories of "fancy brick" over a brownstone first story and basement, with a full-height, three-sided projecting window bay, and terra cotta spandrel panels (often featuring a "Green Man"). The top-floor windows are arched, and Romanesque clustered columns flank the doorway.

299 6th Avenue - unprotected

Around 1896, Bonert begins building a new style of apartment house. They are still four stories in height. The full-height projecting window bay is now gracefully rounded. The spandrel panels are gone, as are the Romanesque columns flanking the doorway; instead, the doorway features classical columns and entablature. More importantly, the "fancy brick" facade is dressed up even more, becoming fully faced with limestone. And most distinctively, Bonert employs some highly unusual window hoods:

317 6th Avenue - unprotected

In 1897, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports yet another cluster of new Bonert apartment houses, at the northeast corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street. The Eagle mistakenly attributes the buildings to "L. Bossert". Louis Bossert was a contemporary lumber magnate, who also built the Hotel Bossert on Montague Street, but our buildings are obviously the work of Louis Bonert, not Bossert. It is not the only time the two men were confused: a New York Times article from 1910 reports the sale of an unfinished house on the south side of First Street in the park block "for Louis Bossert", even though Louis Bonert is known to have built that entire block.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 13, 1897, p. 12 ("New Buildings")

In this row, Bonert seems to retain the form and detailing of his more recent style of apartments, while reverting to the use of "fancy brick" instead of cladding the buildings entirely in stone.

389-391-393 4th Street - unprotected

The corner building has a wonderfully varied 6th Avenue facade: projecting window bays, both angled and gently rounded, alternate along the facade, interspersed with chimney stacks. Twinned granite columns support an elegant entrance portico. The top-story windows, consistent with Bonert's later apartment style, are not arched.

343 6th Avenue - unprotected

The second and third story windows on the 4th Street facades employ the highly distinctive window hoods that Bonert first used in his nearby 6th Avenue row.

343 6th Avenue - detail

The row employs "fancy brick" of slightly varying shades, with either limestone or brownstone trim, over a brownstone base, with rounded window bays, and classical doorways. The row hybridizes the form and detailing of Bonert's emerging apartment house style, with the materials (brick with stone trim) of his earlier buildings.

391 4th Street - unprotected

391 4th Street - detail

2 comments:

Dennis said...

I love this blog! This stuff is fascinating. You are unearthing an architectural, social and cultural history of our beloved park slope that most of us are only dimly aware of. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this well-written, well-researched blog, and for seeking to expand the boundaries of the historic district so that this architectural legacy is preserved for future generations.

HDEC said...

Thank you for your very kind words! Very gratifying to know there is a reader out there!!!