69 Vanderbilt Avenue is on the corner of Park Avenue, in the shadow of the BQE in Wallabout. We get more inquiries about this house than we do about about any other wooden house in Brooklyn. I’m not sure why. Well – wait, that’s a lie. I know exactly why. First, it’s really, really old – and obviously so. The house dates from c. 1850. Second, it’s in absurdly bad shape. Third, the “sister” next house next door (presumably built at the same time) is in impeccable condition, making for a shocking contrast. Fourth, it’s landmarked. So what’s the deal?
Keramos Hall (photo courtesy Kamen Tall Architects)
By now I’m sure you’ve heard of Greenpoint’s newly-restored Keramos Hall. The project has received much well-deserved recognition of late, as the recipient of the Landmarks Conservancy’s Lucy G. Moses Award and the subject of features in a handful of media outlets concerned about architecture, history and preservation in Brooklyn. A whimsical clapboard building — one hidden under asphalt shingles for decades — has finally come out of hiding. Manhattan Avenue has a new crown jewel.
Well, this is all fine and good. Fascinating history, beautiful building, beautiful restoration. But I couldn’t help but wonder: Why? What would have inspired the owners of this building to invest so much money into an exterior restoration of this scale and quality? This is something you just don’t see everyday, especially when it comes to commercial buildings. I had to find out.
Fortunately for me, my WHP co-writer Chelcey has a contact at Kamen Tall Architects, the brilliant team behind the project. So on a warm spring day last week, I hoped aboard the G train to spend the morning at Keramos Hall with architect Joanne Tall and the building’s owner, Harold Weidman. What I learned from these two gave me more hope in the future of Brooklyn’s architecture than anything I have experienced in the past few years.
Cobble Hill’s oldest house is about to come out of hiding! This is the kind of news that makes my geek heart skip a beat. On Tuesday, May 14th, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will consider a proposal to reclad the front of 122 Pacific Street in clapboard, which was discovered under the stucco facade during a recent probe (evident in the photo above, adjacent to the top right corner of the door).
Now THIS is one fantastic house. Or actually, make that two. The clapboard-clad twins on Waverly Avenue are among the oldest buildings in Clinton Hill, and if there is ever an argument for maintaining authentic clapboard siding, this is it! These houses are dripping with texture and history. I dare you to walk by and not do a double-take.
Lucky me — I got to go inside!