Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Monday, June 1, 2009

Louis Bonert: Six-family apartment houses, President Street, 1902

In 1902 Park Slope builder Louis Bonert was granted a permit for a row of four apartment houses on the south side of President Street between 6th & 7th Avenues. The apartments are immediately adjacent to a row of five 8-family apartments he constructed three years earlier, in 1899:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 28, 1902, p. 16 ("Real Estate Market")

788-784 President Street - unprotected

The row represents an innovation in small apartment house design.

In his earlier, adjacent 8-family apartments, the staircase was set deep within the building, and had no external illumination or air. Each of the small windows in the center of each story illuminated the same room as the adjacent bay window:

790 President Street - unprotected

In these newest apartments, by contrast, the staircase was pushed to the front of the building and had its own external windows, illuminating the stair landing halfway between each floor:

782 President Street - unprotected

This innovation was made possible by the nearly 35-foot lot width of the new buildings, in contrast to the 30-foot width of the older buildings.

The new row features many characteristics associated with the Neoclassical style including dentils, egg-and-dart detailing, and "Greek Ears" on the central windows:

782 President Street - detail

The apartments also feature Bonert's by-now-standard "florid classical" doorway:

782 President Street - detail

These apartments are uncharacteristically small in scale, housing only six families in each. Also rather uncharacteristically, the facades are flat and feature no projecting rounded bay. The top-floor windows, however, are arched, in an echo of a feature Bonert has not employed since 1895.

Bonert would soon explore this "wide lot" apartment configuration to even more striking effect nearby.

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