Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Postscript: Louis Bonert

Our intrepid band of historic researchers has uncovered a wealth of new material regarding our favorite Park Slope builder, the prolific Louis Bonert, about whom we have written a great deal on this blog. We won't review the entire Bonert thread, but we want to clarify a couple of earlier tentative attributions.

Most of our latest material has been culled from the American Architect and Building News (AABN), a great resource for researchers of historic buildings. Some of the AABN is online, but we are lucky to have a researcher who has access to nearly the complete run in hardcopy, from which we have derived a wealth of new material for our ever-expanding "Documentary History of Park Slope" (which we hope to publish shortly on the web). Our Research Committee is winding up a chronological scan of the entire AABN run, extracting all of the "hits" for Park Slope. As the hits are obtained, we are logging them in the comments section of our comprehensive photo survey of Park Slope, and also compiling them in a master file we are calling the "Documentary History" of Park Slope, which we will be publishing in a few days.

At any rate, in our earlier Bonert series, we went out on a limb a few times and engaged in "interpretation" or "speculation", in contrast to simply publishing the documentary evidence.

One of these cases is the west side of Sixth Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets (the block from Puppetworks to the Park Slope Ale House):

6th Avenue and 5th Street, northwest corner - unprotected

6th Avenue and 4th Street, southwest corner - unprotected

Despite a complete lack of any evidence, we speculated earlier that this row was by Bonert, based on its similarities to buildings across the street for which we have a documented connection. And we are gratified that the AABN has now confirmed the connection. According to the AABN, Louis Bonert constructed this row in 1891 to the plans of prolific Brooklyn architect W. M. Coots:

"Building Intelligence; Apartment-Houses; Brooklyn, N. Y.," AABN vol. 34, no. 823 (Oct. 3, 1891): p. xvi.
– "Sixth Ave., n w cor. Fifth St., 5 four-st’y brick apartment-houses, tin roofs; cost, $35,000; owner and builder, L. Bonnert [sic - Bonert], 528 Tenth St.; architect, W. M. Coots, 26 Court St."

"Building Intelligence; Stores; Brooklyn, N. Y.," AABN vol. 34, no. 826 (Oct. 24, 1891): p. xviii.
– "Sixth Ave., s w cor. Fourth St., 5 four-st’y stores and apartment-houses, tin roofs; cost, $35,000; owner and builder, L. Bonnert, 528 Tenth St.; architect, W. M. Coots, 26 Court St."

We speculated elsewhere that the northeast corner of 6th Avenue and First street might also have been from Bonert, based on similarities to some of his other work:

6th Avenue and 1st Street, northeast corner - unprotected

However, the AABN confirms that these buildings were built in 1895 by M. S. Buckley to designs by architect Robert Dixon:

"Building Intelligence; Houses; Brooklyn, N. Y.," AABN vol. 49, no. 1019 (Jul. 6, 1895): p. 7.
– "Sixth Ave., e s, 22' 8" n 1st St., 4 four-st’y brick dwells., 19' 4" x 62'; tin roofs; $19,000; own. and bld., M. S. Buckley, 287 Tenth St.; arch., Robt. Dixon, 219 Montague St."
– "Sixth Ave., , n e cor. 1st St., four-st’y brick dwell., 22' 8" x 90'; tin roof; $8,000; own. and bld., M. S. Buckley, 287 Tenth St.; arch., Robt. Dixon, 219 Montague St."

In truth we harbored doubts about our earlier tentative attribution to Bonert. The buildings lack the distinctive "Green Man" panels beneath the windows, and also feature only single columns flanking the doorways, rather than Bonert's distinctive column clusters. Now the AABN confirms that they are in fact not by Bonert at all, although they do seem somewhat derivative of his buildings.

Watch for the upcoming publication of our "Documentary History" of Park Slope.

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