Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Not Pristine" in 7th Avenue

The two buildings at 123 & 123A 7th Avenue reflect the larger changes undergone by the avenue in the late 19th century:

123-123A 7th Avenue - unprotected

The buildings appear to have originated as single-family homes; presumably they would have fit right in on many of Park Slope's entirely residential side streets. 123 7th Avenue, on the left above, even retains its original stoop, door hood, and console brackets. The buildings exhibit Neo-Grec detailing.

According to research we've compiled in our Documentary History of the Park Slope Historic District Extension, the buildings were constructed in 1885 by Mr. [E. A.?] Wooley, to plans by Brooklyn architect Robert Dixon:

"Building Intelligence; Brooklyn," American Architect and Building News vol. 17, no. 488 (May 2, 1885): p. 215.
– "Seventh Ave., e s, 21' n Carroll St., 2 three-st’y brown-stone dwells., tin roofs; cost, about $7,000 each; owner and builder, Mr. Wooley, on premises; architect, Robert Dixon."

As noted previously, Park Slope's 7th Avenue began to develop as a mostly residential street, with some mixed-use (flats over stores) at the intersections, somewhat as parts of 6th Avenue appear today. Soon however, as 7th Avenue achieved an increasingly commercial character, residential buildings such as the ones above were frequently retrofit with commercial space at the basement and parlor levels.

Thus these buildings are said to be "not pristine", in the technical terminology of historic preservation. Even so, buildings such as these contribute a great deal to Park Slope's historic character and sense of place.

But the question arises, what is the "preservation ideal" for buildings like this that are "not pristine"?

One professional preservationist whom we have consulted regarding this project suggests that 123A, with its interesting second floor projecting bay, columns, and small transom windows, might be considered a fine example of an early residential-to-commercial conversion:

123A 7th Avenue - detail
Early residential-to-commercial conversion

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