Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 House Tour: 129 Park Place

This essay completes our series of articles about the 2009 Park Slope Civic Council House Tour. This year's tour will be held on Sunday, May 17, 2009, from noon until 5:00pm. Advance tickets are available here; tickets are also available on the day of the event at the tour's starting point, 50 Prospect Park West. Keep in mind that all of the tour's proceeds are returned to the Park Slope community through the Park Slope Civic Council's unique grants program. As far as we know, no other community group in Brooklyn runs an annual grants program like ours. So come on out, visit some great houses, and help support your local community on May 17! And our sincere thanks to the generous, community-minded people who have agreed to open their houses to the public for this tour. You have done a great service to Park Slope.

Our tour house, 129 Park Place, is one of a row of five classic Italianate brownstone-faced row houses, built in 1874-75 by neighborhood builder John Gordon. It is within the current Park Slope Historic District. These are among the oldest houses in Park Slope, having been built within convenient distance from the horsecar lines that once ran in Flatbush Avenue and 7th Avenue, which provided easy access to the New York ferries at the foot of Fulton Street.

129 Park Place - Park Slope Historic District

The Italianate style is seen in the flush front; the fully-enframed windows; the rounded entryway with segmental-arched door hood; the naturalistic, acanthus-leaved brackets below the door hood; and the cast-iron stoop balusters resembling chess pawns:

129 Park Place - detail

This house lacks the original Italianate stoop newel posts, which can still be seen on the house immediately to the right:

131 Park Place - stoop newel post

The house to the right also sports a projecting, V-shaped bay window at the second floor. This probably represents a 19th-century attempt to "remuddle" an Italianate house into a more modern, neo-Grec V-fronted house. It's true the house gained a nice projecting bay. But, at what cost? The house lost not only the distinctive, segmental-arched door hood, but also the lovely, naturalistic brackets, which were replaced with the more geometric neo-Grec versions, resulting in a kind of bizarre, stylistic mish-mash:

131 Park Place - detail

In short, we're not sure we would have traded in a pristine Italianate door hood for that bay window.

The first owner of 129 Park Place was probably George W. Alexander, bookbinder, who is listed at this address in the 1879 Lain's Brooklyn Directory:

ALEXANDER George W. bookbinder 10 Astor pl N.Y. h 129 Park pl

Alexander's business occupied a series of locations in Manhattan over the course of several decades. By 1893 he no longer resided at 129 Park Place, but a sensational fire in his business on W. 18th Street in New York generated headlines for several days:

New York Times, June 22, 1893

As early as 1883, 129 Park Place was in the hands of Benjamin H. Bayliss, a lawyer in New York. Bayliss was a "man of faith" and was associated for many years with the Memorial Presbyterian Church at 7th Avenue and St. Johns Place in Park Slope. Indeed, the first evidence we have of his residence at 129 Park Place is a notice that he is searching for a precentor for his church choir:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 23, 1883, p. 3

Bayliss was apparently as frugal as he was faithful, renting out rooms to lodgers over the years. An Eagle notice in 1895 recounts that one George H. Gardner of 129 Park Place, most likely a lodger, was relieved of his pocket watch on a trip to Coney Island after succumbing to the "easy familiarity" and excitements of that locale and to the "enthusiastic charms" of a Miss Stacy and her friend, Mr. "Hart Stag", from whom he had accepted the offer of a carriage ride at 3am:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 21, 1895, p. 12

Benjamin H. Bayliss died suddenly at 129 Park Place in 1897, aged 54, of "paralysis", apparently while preparing to go to church:

New York Times, March 9, 1897

The Eagle notes that Bayliss was eulogized as an "every day good man" and was memorialized by his congregation in the form of a Tiffany window installed in Memorial Prebyterian Church later that year. The paper carried a drawing of the window, whose subject, "Christ Blessing Little Children", befits the man who ran the church Sunday School for 25 years:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 27, 1897, p. 5

His son Lucien, named after his maternal grandfather, apparently assumed ownership of 129 Park Place after his father's death. Lucien, who ran successfully for the New York State Assembly, is listed as the resident of 129 Park Place in the 1897 Lain's Brooklyn Directory:

BAYLISS Lucien S. lawyer 170 B'way N. Y. h 129 Park pl

Lucien continued the family's custom of letting rooms to lodgers. Several ads appear in the late 1890s Eagle for room and/or board at 129 Park Place:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 29, 1899, p. 10

The association of the Bayliss family with 129 Park Place continues into the early 20th century. The New York Times on January 18, 1908, carries notice of the incorporation of the Economy Electric Company of Brooklyn, NY, one of whose directors is Donald Bayliss of 129 Park Place. By 1916, Lucien Bayliss is referred to as the "late".

In 1927, the Times recounts that Uno Dahlquist of 129 Park Place was killed in an automobile accident on the Montauk highway. Whether Mr. Dahlquist was a tenant of a still-resident Bayliss family, or whether the house was now a rooming house, is unclear.
Mr. Dahlquist and four colleagues were returning from a job in Westhampton, Long Island, where they were engaged in painting a house.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Yet More Cevedra Blake Sheldon

Today we turn our attention once again to prolific Park Slope builder Cevedra Blake Sheldon, whose work we have examined here in the past and who seems to have exerted a particularly strong influence on 7th Avenue.

Sheldon constructed every building standing today on the west side of 7th Avenue between Garfield Place and 1st Street. In addition, he built about half of the buildings on the west side of 7th Avenue between Garfield Place and Carroll Street.

Sheldon seems particularly to have excelled at those wonderful mixed-use, commercial/residential buildings occupying corner lots. His corner buildings often feature a 3-sided bay projecting above the corner entrance to the first-floor commercial space, as in the row below:

7th Avenue and Garfield Place, northwest corner - unprotected

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, Sheldon built these buildings in 1888:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 24, 1888, p. 6 ("Various Improvements")

The article indicates that the buildings were "single flats", with the kitchens positioned at the rear of each floor's apartment.

The article cites a row of five buildings that was constructed together, but there are seven nearly identical buildings in the row today. It is likely that the original was expanded shortly after construction, or that the row cited here added to already existing buildings.

Continuing south across Garfield Place, we encounter another row by Sheldon, built at the same time in 1888 and also featuring another of his signature projecting corner bays:

7th Avenue and Garfield Place, southwest corner - unprotected

The same Eagle article attributes these buildings, and in fact the entire row to 1st Street, to Sheldon:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 24, 1888, p. 6 ("Various Improvements")

The blockfront culminates in yet another mixed-use building with a projecting corner bay:

7th Avenue and 1st Street, northwest corner - unprotected

These corner buildings are wonderfully complex. Besides the corner bay, each corner building also has a three-sided bay on the side elevation. The entrance to the flats above is via a door at the far end of the side. But, one also notes traces of other doorways along the side wall... one of the articles indicates that the first-floor commercial space could have been subdivided into several small specialty shops. Finally, a now-blocked archway above the cellar hatch in each corner building probably once held a door or partition that could swing open to facilitate deliveries.

It should be noted that builders frequently used identical cornice brackets when constructing rows of multiple buildings. Sheldon seems to have used the same cornice bracket everywhere he worked. We have grown so used to seeing it in 7th Avenue that we now call it the "Sheldon bracket":

"Sheldon" Cornice Brackets

These mixed-use, commercial/residential buildings in 7th Avenue were constructed differently from all-residential "flat houses". In order to create a first-floor facade that could accommodate large glass shop windows, the buildings frequently incorporated vertical cast-iron beams supporting a shallow iron arch into which bricks are set. The arch is usually covered with signage, but some businesses prefer to leave it exposed as in the example below from the South Slope:

7th Avenue & 14th Street, northwest corner - unprotected

The attentive flaneur, strolling Park Slope's commercial avenues, occasionally encounters these cast-iron beams crafted to look like pillars or pilasters on the old commercial bases of the mixed-use buildings. In our perhaps biased opinion, the more minimal the signage, and the more a shop highlights the original building construction, the better we like it.

If one looks carefully at the base of these exposed cast-iron "pillars," one can occasionally make out original foundry marks as in the following example from "Howell & Saxtan" of 353 Adams St., Brooklyn:

Foundry Mark:


These foundry marks recall a much more localized economy, when nearly everything from cast-iron to beer was made right here in Brooklyn. One wonders if we may yet revert (or is it advance?) to such an economy once again.

James Howell of "Howell & Saxtan" may not be much remembered now. But he was Mayor of the independent City of Brooklyn from 1878 to 1881.

Finally, it should be noted that these corner buildings often sported wonderful peaked "hats" that accented the projecting corner bays. A historic photograph from the Brooklyn Public Library's wonderful Brooklyn Collection shows yet another of Sheldon's buildings, now lost, at the corner of 7th Avenue and President Street, when it still retained its peaked corner. Old First Church is on the left in the picture below and the view is to the north in 7th Avenue, toward Flatbush Avenue:

Brooklyn Public Library - Brooklyn Collection

The building, which unfortunately was outside the current Park Slope Historic District, was replaced fairly recently with the Astoria Savings Bank building that currently occupies the site. We have nothing against Astoria Savings; in fact they are our personal banker; but we keenly regret the loss of the older building at the corner of President Street. With each of these losses, Park Slope loses a bit more of its unique "sense of place", becomes a little less interesting, a little more like everywhere else. Plus one hardly need add that we lost three units of housing when the old building was demolished to make way for the current "single-use" bank building:

7th Avenue & President Street, northwest corner - contemporary view

"Incredible CD Rates", indeed...

We would be extremely saddened - we hesitate to say "heartbroken", but the word very nearly applies - if we lost any more of the wonderful original buildings by Cevedra Blake Sheldon and others that provide so much of the interest, character, and "sense of place" to Park Slope's commercial corridors. And we daresay most Park Slope residents, at least the ones who care at all about the community in which they live, would feel the same way.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2009 House Tour: 446 11th Street

446 11th Street, a small wood-frame house between 6th and 7th Avenues in the South Slope, presents several challenges to the researcher. #446 is the blue house on the right, behind the tree:

450-446 11th Street - unprotected

11th Street was renumbered in the late 19th century, possibly around 1890. Thus any citations to "446 Eleventh Street" prior to the renumbering will refer to another building, and we have not yet determined exactly when the renumbering occurred.

The renumbering was certainly complete by 1897. Thus we can try searching for the address in the online 1897 Lain's Brooklyn Directory, to see if we might find the name of the resident at the time. Unaccountably, the address does not appear in the 1897 Lain's.

An address search in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle yields just one citation, a "Situation Wanted" advertisement from 1900:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 22, 1900, p. 10

Had the "respectable young girl" been currently employed at 446 11th Street, she probably would have specified "call at present employer's" in her advertisement, since it would have made it easier for prospective employers to obtain references. Thus it is likely that the girl was presently at liberty, and that 446 11th Street was her home.

Since there is no 1897 Lain's citation, but there is a 1900 Eagle citation, one might conclude that this house was built between 1897 and 1900. But 446 11th Street is probably a good deal older than that.

The reason involves what were called the "Fire Limits" of the city, or the building codes that specified whether a structure could be made of less expensive wood, or must be made of more expensive brick. The question of whether to extend the "Fire Limits" was constant throughout late 19th-c. Brooklyn:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 4, 1892, p. 1 ("Fire Limits")

Discussions concerning whether and where to extend the Fire Limits were contentious, and have an eerie familiarity to those who follow development issues in present-day Brooklyn. One speaker, no doubt a builder of wood frame dwellings, argued against extension, claiming that the Fire Limits constrained business; that the Fire Limits constrained growth; that wooden houses provided necessary housing for workers; and even that brick buildings were more susceptible to fire:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 14, 1889, p. 1 ("Brick or Wood?")

One of the few arguments missing here is that laws mandating brick dwellings are "elitist"!

The article concludes on another note highly familiar to those who have observed local civic organizations at work: after much argument, the question was deferred and the meeting was adjourned.

The Eagle indicates that in 1890, the Fire Limit in the 22nd Ward, which included Park Slope, was extended southward from its boundary at the time, the midline between 13th and 14th Streets:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 4, 1892, p. 1 ("Fire Limits")

Thus in 1890, 446 11th Street, a wood-frame house, was already inside the Fire Limits. We must therefore conclude that the building, and its neighbors in 11th Street, all predate 1890, since their wood frame construction would not have been permitted once the Fire Limits included their block. If we could determine when the Fire Limits were earlier enlarged to include 11th Street, we could further pinpoint the age of these houses.

It is quite possible that 446 11th Street, or at least its eastward neighbors with the single-story bay windows, could be as old as the 1870s. The single-story bay window seems to have become popular in that decade, as evidenced by these somewhat similar houses from 13th Street that we have definitively dated to 1870 based on Eagle citations:

246-244A 13th Street - unprotected

Many of these very old wood frame houses in the South Slope have lost much of their original character. With a great deal of effort (and money), however, some homeowners have been restoring some of the original grace to these neglected dwellings that once sheltered clerks, tradesmen, and "respectable young girls".

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Earlier, More Residential 7th Avenue

As documented in the Brooklyn Eagle, a long row of twelve luxurious single-family dwellings was constructed in 1885 on the east side of 7th Avenue between Carroll and Garfield Streets by Henry S. Lansdell, whose work we have already noted in President Street. At $14,000 apiece ($16,000 for the corner house at Carroll Street), these were very expensive houses for 1885. The article describes the fine interior finishes at great length, and notes the expansive views toward the harbor offered by these houses built high up on the Park Slope:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 8, 1885 ("Houses")

Most of the buildings are still standing, but they were long ago reconfigured from single-family use to "flats over stores":

7th Avenue, Carroll Street to Garfield Place, east side - unprotected

We might find it surprising today that someone would have once built single-family residences in 7th Avenue, which is today an almost exclusively commercial street. No doubt when these buildings were constructed, however, Lansdell envisioned that 7th Avenue would become more like the street that 6th Avenue is today, with single family houses intermingled with mixed-use, commercial/residential buildings on the corners. We have already seen how C. B. Sheldon constructed in 1888-89 a primarily residential row of flats with corner store, just to the south of Lansdell's row.

It is likely that 7th Avenue "tipped" to exclusively commercial use quite early. Many of the buildings across the street were developed as mixed-use from the beginning, as opposed to starting out like Lansdell's row in single-family use and then having shops retrofit later into the first two floors.

Two of the buildings at the Carroll Street end of the row were later demolished to make way for the Chase Bank building that stands there now:

7th Avenue, Carroll Street to Garfield Place, east side - unprotected

The buildings are clearly "historic", although heavily modified. Are they worthy to be included in the Park Slope Historic District? We think so. One need only look to buildings further north in 7th Avenue, within the existing Historic District, to see that heavy modification is no impediment to inclusion in a historic district:

59-61 7th Avenue - Park Slope Historic District

54-52 7th Avenue - Park Slope Historic District

69-73 7th Avenue - Park Slope Historic District

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 House Tour: Henry Hulbert mansion

There's not a lot to say about Park Slope's Henry C. Hulbert mansion that hasn't been said many times before, so we won't say much about it other than that it is the starting point for the Park Slope Civic Council's 2009 House Tour, on Sunday, May 19, 2009.

Henry C. Hulbert house, 50 Prospect Park West - Park Slope Historic District

The building was designed in 1889-92 in bravura Romanesque Revivial style by Montrose Morris. Tour goers will have the opportunity to view the interior of the house, which now serves as the Poly Preparatory Country Day School's lower school. The building was recently enlarged by the addition of a new wing in 1st Street. The addition received extra scrutiny because it was being built within the Park Slope Historic District, but built it was, which serves as a corrective to those who would charge that Historic Districts "freeze" all new development. They do nothing of the kind, as this new building and others within the Park Slope Historic District demonstrate:

Addition, Poly Prep Lower School - 1st Street - Park Slope Historic District

Something about the original Hulbert mansion has always seemed slightly unsettling to us. Norval White and Elliot Willensky definitely capture this feeling, in their classic AIA Guide to New York City, in which they describe the building as "cadaverous". Executed in white Indiana limestone, unusual for a Romanesque Revival building, the structure can at times resemble a heap of bleached bones.

Henry Hulbert house, Prospect Park West - 1930s - Brooklyn Public Library

Limestone does not weather well, and can assume a melting look after the passage of many decades. Thus the building also brings to mind W. H. Auden's remark that his own face resembled a "wedding cake left out in the rain." (Auden was a heavy smoker.)

Hulbert made his fortune in the paper industry. One notes a distinct whiff of "new money" about the men of means who built the great mansions of Park Slope: they made their money in such pedestrian areas as cleansing powder and chewing gum... These are not the great patrician fortunes of the old Dutch families. There is an air of the "shop floor" about these men, or so it seems to us. Of course, money is money, in any age. Or at least it used to be!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2009 House Tour: 874 Carroll Street

The neo-Georgian residence at 874 Carroll Street was designed in 1904 by the firm of Mowbray & Uffinger, the same firm that designed the Dime Savings Bank in downtown Brooklyn, and also #1 Montgomery Place, among many other commissions in Brooklyn and Manhattan. This house was designed for the firm's senior partner, Louis M. Mowbray.

878-876-874 Carroll Street - Park Slope Historic District

874 Carroll Street exemplifies the innovative "American basement" house, successor to the earlier high-stooped brownstone basement, and the lower-stooped "Engish basement" configurations. Christopher Gray of the New York Times explains the differences in a "Streetscapes" column published June 5, 2005:

"The term English basement had been used to describe houses of the 1840's [or later] entered via four or five steps, with a reception hall in the front of the ground floor and a dining room at the rear. A kitchen and laundry were placed in the cellar - rendering them quite dark - and the principal floor, the second level, contained the parlor.

"By the 1860's, the high-stoop row house, the classic 'brownstone' (even though they were not all in brownstone), had emerged, with a different design. The ground floor was slightly below grade, with a room at the front and a kitchen at the rear - and fairly good light. It was essentially a service floor, directly accessible from the street for deliveries and tradesmen. The owner and family had to mount a high stoop of 10 to 12 steps to the main entrance, leading to a parlor in the front and a dining room at the back.

"[In an American basement house,] The entrance was through the ground floor, just a few steps above the sidewalk and leading into a reception room. The kitchen, at the rear of this floor, had daylight, and a stairway in the center of the house led to the second floor. There, the parlor ran the full width of the house at the front, and the dining room was similarly sited at the rear - the stairway remained in the center. Instead of having to walk upstairs to answer the door, as in a high-stoop house, the maid in an American basement house simply went from the kitchen directly to the front. And there was no high stoop."

In the 1897 Lain's Brooklyn Directory, Louis M. Mowbray's address is given as 240 Washington Avenue. He thus followed a well-beaten path from the older Clinton Hill neighborhood, to the emerging Park Slope neighborhood, around the turn of the last century.

A daughter, Virginia Mowbray, was born about 1902. The New York Times chronicles activities associated with her privileged childhood, including a blue ribbon in a horse show at the Brooklyn Riding and Driving Club in 1916. Miss Virginia Mowbray won in the polo pony class with "Beowulf, a big 15 hands roan pony." Members of the Brooklyn Riding and Driving Club were frequently to be seen in Prospect Park and along the Eastern and Ocean Parkways. Their clubhouse and stables were formerly located in Prospect Heights on Plaza Street, between Flatbush and Vanderbilt Avenues. The club staged frequent horse shows, indoor polo matches in Brooklyn armories, and other equestrian events.

Grand Army Plaza at Vanderbilt Avenue, looking north -
Brooklyn Riding and Driving Club at left

By 1921, when the Times announced Virginia Mowbray's engagement to Arthur Whitney, her father was deceased but her mother still resided at 874 Carroll Street:

New York Times, November 11, 1921

The marriage was not an unqualified success. The New York Times on July 18, 1925 revealed that the couple were estranged, and that she had submitted a "14 Point" list of conditions to her husband, to which she demanded signed agreement in order to preserve their matrimonial state. By this time Virginia was again living with her mother, who had removed to 616A Third Street in Park Slope. The Times dubbed Virginia Mowbray Whitney the "14 Point Wife" and published the list, which had been placed in public record as part of the case, in its entirety, along with several articles detailing charges and counter-charges:

New York Times, July 18, 1925

Arthur Whitney, it was recounted in the Times, "refused to sign the ultimatum because he said it resembled the 'terms of a victorious General to a foe he had forced to unconditional surrender.'"

The couple divorced, and Virginia Mowbray married Clark Miller on January 1, 1930. He died in 1935, and Virginia herself died in 1949, predeceasing her elderly mother, who placed the following notice in the Times in memory of her daughter, who had spent her childhood at 874 Carroll Street:

New York Times, July 18, 1949

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009 House Tour: 873 President Street

873 President Street is another of the many houses in Park Slope that retained a lengthy association with a single family through multiple generations. Built in 1878 and one of the oldest houses on the block, 873 President Street was designed by Stachlin & Steiger in a style reminiscent of a small country villa, which it must have resembled when the rest of the block was largely empty. It has a "stick style" overhang with wooden struts in the front gable.

873 President Street - Park Slope Historic District

873 President Street - detail

Francis O. Affeld, a native of Germany, was the first owner of this house. Affeld was a Civil War veteran who had been shot in the leg at the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain and was in numerous other military engagements. He is listed at this address in the 1879 Lain's Brooklyn Directory, where his occupation is given as "insurance", and he resided here with his wife, one son, Francis Jr., and three daughters, Antoinette, Louise, and Caroline ("Carrie").

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle records that the three girls attended Miss Rounds' School, later the Rounds Institute, in Clinton Hill. Antoinette Affeld graduated from Miss Rounds' School in 1897, and the Eagle account of the graduation ceremonies noted that "Miss Affeld will enter Vassar in the fall." However, Antoinette ultimately graduated from Columbia University in 1902 with a degree in secondary education.

Francis Jr. excelled in both baseball and tennis, and played for the Crescent Athletic Club, a former elite country club in Brooklyn (Fort Hamilton High School was later built on its Bay Ridge playing fields, and the St. Ann's School occupies its former downtown clubhouse). The New York Times, among its many accounts of the Crescent Athletic Club teams, noted on August 17, 1900 that Affeld Jr.'s batting average was .328.

In 1903, Francis O. Affeld Jr. became engaged to a neighbor, Miss Edith Keiser of Carroll Street:

New York Times, October 11, 1903

Edith died in 1914, aged 34, leaving two children including Francis O. Affeld 3rd. In 1917 Francis Jr. remarried, to Bertha Lilian Bacon, a graduate of Vassar College who was active in the League of Women Voters:

New York Times, June 10, 1917

Bertha Bacon Affeld, a founder of the Vassar Club of New York, died in 1927, aged 48, leaving her husband twice a widower.

By 1930, Francis O. Affeld 3rd had married Elizabeth Namack of Balston Spa, New York, a graduate of Wellesley, and he was serving in the legal staff of Governer General Dwight F. Davis of the Phillipines. While there, the couple were blessed with their first child, a son, Francis O. Affeld 4th. By 1933, they were back in the United States, and were living in Great Neck, Long Island, when Elizabeth, aged 25, was killed suddenly in an automobile accident.

All this time, the family patriarch, the original Francis O. Affeld, remained at 873 President Street. It seems that his daughters Louise and Carrie never married, but remained living with their father in Park Slope. Francis O. Affeld finally died in 1939, aged 96 years, at 873 President Street:

New York Times, July 18, 1939

At some point his son, Francis O. Affeld Jr., returned to live at 873 President Street until he, too, died there, in 1953, at age 77.

New York Times, February 12, 1953

The Park Slope Historic District designation notes that Louise Affeld lived at 873 President Street for more than 90 years, having moved in at age two in about 1878.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

2009 House Tour: 626 6th Street

626 6th Street, together with 624 6th Street next door, was built in 1898-99 for Charles G. Peterson. These two buildings closely resemble the great row of houses around the corner, on Prospect Park West between 6th and 7th Streets, which had been developed in 1896, also by Peterson.

626-624 6th Street - Park Slope Historic District

The buildings are essentially Neoclassical in design, and executed in a handsome light-colored brick that became popular in the second half of the 1890s. Columns and entablature frame the doorway, while egg-and-dart detailing surround the parlor-floor windows.

626 6th Street - detail

Peterson is perhaps best known today for his row of matching buildings on Prospect Park West, around the corner. But in 1901 he became reviled as the man who ruined "Sportsmen's Row", the stretch of 8th Avenue just off Flatbush Avenue. He did this by developing the lots north of the Montauk Club with houses that faced Plaza Street, exposing their backsides to the stately homes across 8th Avenue, where many pinnacles of Brooklyn society lived. Some members of the Montauk Club tried to fend him off by raising a subscription and buying these lots from Peterson when the plans became known. But the subscription failed; Peterson proceeded; and some of the members quit the club as a result.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 7, 1901

By 1923, 626 6th Street was owned by James J. McCullough. McCullough had earlier married Kathryn A. Tilyou, sister of George C. Tilyou, and the two brothers-in-law became business partners and founders of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island. James and Kathryn had eight children, so even so a large house as 626 6th Street might have felt a bit tight for space. In 1923, the New York Times announced the engagement of one of their sons, Edward J. McCullough:

New York Times, September 30, 1923

James McCullough is said to have invented the "shooting gallery" and operated several of these amusements in and around New York. McCullough died in 1934.

New York Times, February 20, 1934