Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Monday, December 7, 2009

1st Street Row: Split by the Historic District

On the north side of 1st Street just above 7th Avenue stands another continuous row of related buildings split by the current Park Slope Historic District boundary.

According to the district's Designation Report, the four houses from 465 to 469A 1st Street were built in 1884-5 in Neo-Grec style by Brooklyn owner-architects Martin and Lee:

Park Slope Historic District Designation Report, p. 100

465-469 are pictured below; 469A, just out of the frame to the right, is identical to 469. The builders seem to have been trying out different configurations in these houses: 469 & 469A are 2-story over basement; 467 is 3-story over basement, and 465 features a full-height, two-sided V-front. Detailing, however, is similar on all of the houses:

465-469 1st Street - Park Slope Historic District

It is likely that builders Martin & Lee erected the houses in small groups, as they did in their lots through the block on the south side of Garfield Place above 7th Avenue.

Six houses stand between 7th Avenue and the Historic District boundary on the north side of 1st Street. The Designation Report notes that these houses were "built at the same time". The statement is ambiguous: were they built at the same time as each other? Or at the same time as the adjacent houses inside the district?

455-463 1st Street - unprotected

A clue can be found in our comprehensive Documentary History of the Park Slope Historic District Expansion Study Area. An 1886 citation from the Brooklyn Eagle notes that builders Martin and Lee have recently completed three narrow (16') houses at the northeast corner of 7th Avenue and 1st Street:

Brooklyn Eagle, April 2, 1886, p. 1 ("City Growth")

Altogether, six identical narrow houses, all apparently by Martin and Lee, stand together between 7th Avenue and the current Historic District boundary, adjoining the four additional, stylistically similar houses by Martin and Lee within the current Historic District. The entire row was apparently built between 1884 and 1886.

463 1st Street - detail (unprotected)

469 1st Street - detail (Park Slope Historic District)

Why were the six houses nearest to 7th Avenue excluded? Let's do the math: six houses, at 16 feet each, equals a total of 96 feet, or very close to the 100' depth of a standard Brooklyn building lot. Could these houses have been excluded because it was assumed they would be replaced by modern towers along 7th Avenue? Is that the future we envision for our community?

But more importantly, should "development potential" be the basis for landmarking decisions? If the adjacent buildings inside the current district, stylistically identical, and erected by the same builders at the same time, are worthy of protection in a historic district, should not the rest of the row down to 7th Avenue also be protected?

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