Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2010 House Tour: 946 President Street

This house will be featured on the 2010 Park Slope House Tour, which will be held Sunday, May 16. Tickets will be available at 7th Avenue merchants, and through the Park Slope Civic Council's website. All proceeds from the House Tour are returned to the community through the Council's Grants Program.

946 President Street - Park Slope Historic District

Part of a 4-house row built in Queen Anne style, 946 President Street was constructed in 1886; the date is visible in the gable. The tall, quoined chimney serves unusual corner fireplaces in the line of rooms below it. According to the Park Slope Historic District's Designation Report, this house once shared a central courtyard with its paired neighbor at #944 through which both houses were entered. The architect might have been Charles T. Mott, who in 1890 modified some of the companion houses in this row.

946 President Street - detail

In 1902, both 944 and 946 President Street were auctioned by the estate of Newbury H. Frost, who served on the Board of Directors of the Long Island Elevated Rail Road. Frost was also a "man of the turf;" the Brooklyn Eagle noted that he was "...one of the most enthusiastic of local horsemen... As he cannot be ranked among the lightweights he rides a seal brown mare of great strength and endurance."

Brooklyn Eagle, March 9, 1902, p. 30

Both houses were bought at auction by Gilbert Elliott, a Brooklyn real estate operator and lawyer; the 1902 price for 946 President Street was $9,500.

For much of the 20th century, 946 President Street was the home and music school of Carl H. Tollefsen, a violinist, music teacher, and collector of musical items. He became a violinist with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra and with the New York Symphony Society under Walter Damrosch, conductor, but gained his widest fame and critical plaudits with the Tollefsen Trio, founded with his first wife in 1908. In his house he had a collection that included more than 1,500 musical manuscripts and excerpts from manuscripts by Beethoven, Bach, Schumann, Paderewski, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and other composers. Mr. Tollefsen owned 30 rare stringed instruments, including a lute that belonged to Catherine the Great and a harpsichord once owned by Marie Antoinette.

Brooklyn Eagle Almanac for 1919

Carl Tollefsen died at 946 President Street in 1963, and his second wife died in 1965. But the historic district's Designation Report still identified the house as the Tollefsen School of Music in its 1973 description.

Carl Tollefsen (holding violin) in 1940
Photo: University of New Hampshire Library

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