Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lost Park Slope: Gen. Christensen House

Like us, blogger IMBY has also been poking around in Columbia University's online Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide.

IMBY recently discovered an interesting RERBG article about Park Slope's 8th Avenue from 1912. The article features several photographs, including a view looking north from President Street before the tall apartment buildings were constructed on the west side of that block:

8th Avenue, view north from President Street, 1912
Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, May 18, 1912, p. 1

The buildings on the east side of 8th Avenue (right side in the photo above) are unchanged to the present day. But the buildings on the west side have been replaced by tall apartment buildings.

The RERBG article indicates that the house at the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and President Street, visible to the left in the photograph above, was originally the residence of Civil War General C. T. Christensen.

An idea of General Christensen's prominence can be gleaned from a New York Times article of 1903, noting both his 5oth wedding anniversary and the marriage of Violet, one of his daughters. The article notes that General Christensen "was for many years identified prominently with the military, social, and business life of Brooklyn. He was a long time President of the Brooklyn Trust Company, and prior to that he was connected with the banking house of Drexel, Morgan, & Co.":

New York Times, March 20, 1903, p. 9

It seems that Gen. and Mrs. Christensen were blessed with many daughters. An 1889 article from the Brooklyn Eagle recounts the presentation of the Misses Laura and Hope Christensen "as candidates for the favors of society" at their home on the corner of 8th Avenue and President Street:

Brooklyn Eagle, January 31, 1889, p. 5 ("Two Fair Debutantes")

Below is a view of the corner today. The Park Slope Historic District's Designation Report states that the apartment house on the northwest corner of President Street and 8th Avenue was constructed in 1928, so General Christensen's house must have been pulled down not long before then:

8th Avenue and President Street, west side
Park Slope Historic District

Many of the tall apartment houses in 8th Avenue are similar "second growth" buildings, erected on soft development sites originally occupied by large mansions with spacious gardens.


Steve S said...

General Christensen was my great, great, great grandfather. My folks have photos of the old mansion - it had a big yard. They were long-time members of Plymouth Church. The general was a good friend of Jacob Riis, the famous photographer and author, and part of T. Roosevelt campaign.

The general died in 1905 after he had gone back to Copenhagen.

CivilWarDanes said...

Hi Steve and Save the Slope,

Thank you for a very interesting article.

I am currently doing research on C. T. Christensen for an article, or potentially a book, about Danes in the Civil War - and Christensens career was most interesting.

I have found part of his papers at the Huntington Library and some in a collection at Stanford, but do you by any chance know if there are more within the family.

Famous Danish journalist Henrik Cavling in his travelogue "Fra Amerika" writes 6 pages about Christensen, and mentions that he wrote a great account of the battle of Hampton Roads (March 8-9, 1862) in American Newspapers/magazines.

Do you by any chance know where this might have been published? The Brooklyn Eagle? And potentially when?

If you can find the time, I would love to hear from you on e-mail ras@sam.sdu.dk and learn more about General Christensen.

All the very best,