Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Acme Hall's Neighbors

The story of Park Slope's Acme Hall, on the northwest corner of 9th Street and 7th Avenue, is fairly well-known these days; Ruth Edebohls chronicled its history in an article published on Bob Guskind's inimitable "Gowanus Lounge" blog. Ms. Edebohls states that Acme Hall was built in 1890 by C. Nickenig.

Perhaps less well known is that Charles Nickenig apparently also built the rest of the block running north from Acme Hall to 8th Street, a row of seven mixed-use buildings containing flats over ground-floor commercial space:

314-326 7th Avenue - unprotected

Plans for the five buildings closest to 8th Street appeared in both the Brooklyn Eagle and the American Architect and Building News in March, 1889:

"Building Intelligence; Stores; Brooklyn, N. Y.," AABN vol. 25, no. 689 (Mar. 9, 1889): p. xviii.
– "Seventh Ave., w s, 22' s Eighth St., 4 four-st’y brownstone stores and dwells., tin roofs; cost, each, $7,000; owner, Chas. Nickenig, 437 Ninth St.; architect, W. H. Wirth; builder, not selected."
– "Seventh Ave., s w cor. Eighth St., four-st’y brownstone store and tenement, tin roof; cost, $8,000; owner, Charles Nickenig, 437 Ninth St.; architect, W. H. Wirth; builder, not selected."

Brooklyn Eagle, March 02, 1889, p. 2 ("Houses - Lots")

Note the two errors in the Eagle citations above: the first listing reversed "street" and "avenue", while the second listing mangled Nickenig's name.

A few months later, the Eagle carried a notice regarding the rest of the row, two buildings closer to 9th Street:

Brooklyn Eagle, June 22, 1889, p.1 ("Real Estate")

The architect was William H. Wirth, whose work we last encountered in 6th Avenue, in a row of small brick houses designed for builder Thomas Butler.

The 7th Avenue buildings are brownstone-faced, and the upper floors of each feature a three-sided projecting window bay surmounted by ornate swags just below the elaborate cornice:

The orientation of the window bays alternate so that the buildings stand in matched pairs; except for the mismatched paint, the pair below could easily be mistaken for a single building:

Such an orientation places the entrances to the upper floors next to each other on the ground floor. In the pair of buildings shown above, the upper-floor entrances have been combined into a single doorway. The combined entry may have been a later alteration; as shown below to the left, some of the building pairs still have separate entrances to the upper floors:

The buildings are in near-original condition, still housing flats above and shops on the ground floor, just as they have done since they were first constructed in 1889.

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