Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Postscript: Charles Long, Park Slope Builder

One of the benefits of our Documentary History of the Park Slope Historic District Expansion Study Area is that it is searchable. One can call up the page, search it for a particular architect or builder's name, compile a list of buildings associated with that name, and order them chronologically to see the history of that individual's impact on Park Slope. That is how we develop the history that we present on this blog.

We found it odd that Charles Long suddenly vanished after his 8th Street project, and wondered if we could find out what happened to him. After a bit of digging, we found the following notice:

Brooklyn Eagle, June 27, 1886, p. 4 ("About Brooklyn People")

Of course we can't be sure it was the same fellow. But, how many prominent Brooklyn builders of the mid-1880s could have been named Charles Long? And the timing of the death matches the cessation of listings in the Brooklyn Eagle and the American Architect and Building News.

Careful readers may recall that one of our earliest notices of Charles Long characterized him as "one of the most enterprising builders in the city". This seems to imply that he built other buildings before the 5th Street row with which we commenced our series on him. Could some of them be standing in Park Slope?

We have no documentary evidence for any other buildings by Charles Long and J. F. Wood at this time. And, we try to resist indulging in "interpretation" or "speculation" on this blog. But as one walks the streets of Park Slope, observing the passing facades, it is hard to resist the temptation to look out for a familiar door hood and brackets...

For example, have we seen this somewhere before?:

408 10th Street - detail

It looks just like all the other door hoods from Long and Wood, right? Here is the rest of the house, a "singleton" (individual house, not a part of a row) in 10th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues:

408 10th Street - unprotected

Now, we're not saying, because we don't interpret or speculate, but the Neo-grec detailing of this house appears identical to that of Long and Wood's many houses in Park Slope. With one big difference, of course: the doorway here features a rounded portal, in an echo of the fading Italianate style. Thus if we were to hazard a guess for the date of this house (which we're not), we would say it predates 1882, at which time the lingering Italianate vestige had been abandoned, and the doorways that Long and Wood were building in 5th Street were squared off in full conformance with Neo-grec style.

Another example, from nearby 9th Street. Who might have designed this door hood?:

346A 9th Street - detail

Here's the full row of four, from the south side of 9th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues:

348A-348-346A-346 9th Street - unprotected

We have no documentary evidence for these houses, and of course we're not speculating, but they do look uncannily like Long & Wood's documented work. This 9th Street row again features the rounded doorway, in a nod to the lingering Italianate style. Circa 1881, one might speculate, but of course we're not going to do that!

These are a few possible candidates for the early work of "one of the most enterprising builders in the city", Charles Long. There may well be others standing elsewhere in Park Slope.

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