Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Friday, September 3, 2010

Montrose Morris in the North Slope

Recently the ubiquitous local architectural historian "Montrose Morris" devoted a Brownstoner "House of the Day" column to the marvelous mixed-use apartment houses at 76-82 St. Marks Avenue in the North Slope:

76-82 St. Marks Avenue ("Montauk" and "Lenox" apartments)
Montrose Morris, architect - 1885
William H. Scott, owner

According to "Montrose Morris", the buildings were constructed in 1885, to designs by her namesake, distinguished Brooklyn architect Montrose Morris. It is worth reproducing her remarks on this remarkable set of buildings:

Why chosen: Not many people realize this is an MM building. One could argue that it is his practice run for his masterpiece, the Alhambra, built later in 1889. Lauded in the Eagle as one of the finest apt buildings in Brooklyn at the time, this building once had large apartments, each with a parlor, library, dining room, pantry, kitchen, 3 bedrooms, servants' rooms and two bathrooms. Design-wise, we can see Morris' signature style emerging; the placement of the building to command the street, his use of bays and massing of windows adding space, as well as lots of light. His decorative rooflines and use of various elements such as banded foliate terra-cotta, decorative carvings around the entrances, the bold naming of his buildings, and his mixture of materials to add interest to the building. Lastly, we can see his most pervasive signature element; his use of multiple columns, usually surrounding Romanesque arched windows, slightly recessed here, but soon to form deeply recessed loggias.

We asked "Montrose Morris," whom we revere as a fellow fanatical preservationist, what documentation supports her claim that the buildings were designed by Morris. She pointed us to a Brooklyn Eagle article from May 18, 1885 that seems to describe a set of somewhat similar buildings, in the same location, by Montrose Morris:

Brooklyn Eagle, May 18, 1885, p. 6 ("A Big Building")

We then turned to our Documentary History of the Park Slope Historic District Expansion Study Area to see if we had any other evidence to support the attribution, and indeed, we do.

The same development was recorded by the American Architect & Building News in June, 1885:

"Building Intelligence; Brooklyn," AABN vol. 17, no. 496 (Jun. 27, 1885): p. 311.
– "Flatbush Ave, s e cor. St. Mark’s Ave., seven-st’y brick, Carlisle Stone and terra-cotta apartment-house, Sparham fire-proof cement roofing; cost, $150,000 to $200,000; owner, Wm Scott, 33 Wall St.; architect, M. W. Morris."

The Brooklyn Eagle also noted that the New Building permit for these buildings had been issued in its issue of June 18, 1885:
Brooklyn Eagle, June 18, 1885, p. 4 ("Municipal")

"Montrose Morris" also offered irrefutable evidence that these buildings are by architect Montrose Morris: she says that distinguished architectural historian and Montrose Morris expert Andrew Dolkart says so! That's good enough for "Montrose Morris," and it's good enough for us too!

"Lenox" Apartments - entrance detail
Montrose Morris, architect - 1885

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