Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Friday, January 30, 2009

1889 "Elegant Brick Row" in Carroll Street

Early Park Slope developers frequently constructed long rows of similar or identical houses. This simplifies matters somewhat for the researcher, since one can identify details about the entire row at once.

Such is the case for the long row of 23 houses in the north side of Carroll Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. This row was obviously developed all at once: three building styles repeat throughout the central sequence, in ABCABCABC... pattern:

633-635 Carroll Street - unprotected

The facades of the houses at each end of the row step forward to meet the adjoining structures and to bookend the entire ensemble:

653-655 Carroll Street - unprotected

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the entire row was just finishing contruction in April, 1889. The owner was James C. Jewett and the architect was A. E. White. The article calls the style "colonial", but we would probably call them Queen Anne. The article includes an extensive description of the interiors of this "elegant brick row", a development clearly aimed at the top of the market for home buyers in late 19th-century Brooklyn:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 10, 1889, p. 6 ("Flat Houses")

Remarkably, all twenty-three houses, the entire row, still stand, appearing much as they did when they were first constructed in 1889.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Hirsch, Builder

Sometimes it's easy to discover when an early Park Slope building was erected. Sometimes a building will announce its birth year!

Consider the "flat house" pictured below, so called because families were housed in "flats", or what we would call apartments. This building stands on the west side of 6th Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets in the South Slope:

480 Sixth Avenue - unprotected

A close inspection of the facade reveals the date "1890" in the medallions between the second and third floors:

A bit of research in the online Brooklyn Daily Eagle yields the following note concerning this building's construction:

Brooklyn Eagle, June 14, 1890, p. 1 ("New Buildings")

The owner/builder, John Hirsch, "signed" his work by placing his initials in the cornice:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Parfitt Brothers in 4th Street

A close reading of the online Brooklyn Eagle yields many items of interest to the historian of Park Slope. The issue of October 19, 1885, notes that Edwin C. Litchfield's Brooklyn Improvement Company is offering for sale 11 recently completed houses of "peculiar design" in 4th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. Litchfield of course owned much of present-day Park Slope in the mid-19th century; his villa still stands just inside Prospect Park at 4th Street.

Parfitt Brothers, the architects, were one of the most prominent firms in Brooklyn, designing among many other buildings the nearby St. Augustine's R.C. Church.

Brooklyn Eagle, October 19, 1885, p. 2 ("Busy Builders")

Amazingly, 10 of the original 11 houses are still standing in 4th Street: the original row of 6 on the south side, and 4 of the original row of 5 on the north side.

The 4 houses below are from the row to the south and appear largely unchanged since they were built in 1885:

320-326A 4th Street - unprotected

Unfortunately a few of these Queen Anne-style houses have lost their distinctive gables to the modern craze of "remuddling", including the house on the left below, from the row on the northern side of the street:

323-325 4th Street - unprotected

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mirror Images

These two buildings, one in Fifth Street and one in Seventh Street, are mirror images of each other. They are early apartment houses, with one apartment per floor (4-family "flats"). They are distinguished by the 3-sided bay window on the upper floors, above a recessed doorway behind a single pillar, and a very extravagant window enframement on the second floor. Neither building stands within the current Park Slope Historic District.

400 Fifth Street - unprotected

According to the 1897 Lain's Brooklyn directory, the residents of 400 Fifth Street included:

MOREY Edmund mer. h 400 5th
STAUDINGER Augustus L. salesman h 400 5th
WILLCOCK Mark C. salesman h 400 5th

397 Seventh Street - unprotected

The 1897 Lain's lists the following residents of 397 Seventh Street:

HITCHCOCK Nelson H. h 397 7th
MEHRTENS John H. police h 397 7th
MEHRTENS Martin h 397 7th
MUGFORD harry clk. h 397 7th
WAGNER Edw'd O. engraver h 397 7th

By 1902, one of the apartments at 397 Seventh Street had been vacated and was listed for rent in the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. Rent was $24/month.

Brooklyn Eagle, April 20, 1902

Monday, January 5, 2009

St. Matthew's English Lutheran Church

A slight air of neglect surrounds the church at 6th Avenue and 2nd Street in Park Slope. The cornerstone has crumbled away and is no longer readable. However, it is possible to make out the words "Matthew's" and "Lutheran Church", carved on stone plaques mounted onto the tower.

From these clues, via a search in the online Brooklyn Eagle, we were able to determine that the original name for this church was St. Matthew's English Lutheran Church. Apparently there was also a German Lutheran Church elsewhere in Brooklyn.

St. Matthew's English Lutheran Church, 6th Ave. & 2nd Street - unprotected

A Brooklyn Eagle article from May 22, 1896, notes that the Church was nearing completion and would be dedicated in June of that year:

Brooklyn Eagle, May 22, 1896

Several churches already stand within the boundaries of the current Park Slope Historic District. Below is the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, erected 1880. Its steeple was knocked down by the Hurricane of 1938:

Sixth Avenue Baptist Church - Park Slope Historic District