Mayor De Blasio, A Wooden House Fan?
The de Blasio residence in the South Slope
Now that our new Mayor has been in office for a few months, the cat is out of the bag … de Blasio is a wooden house fan!
Well, he’s never said such a thing, but hear us out. We’ve done a little digging and discovered Mayor de Blasio owns at least two wooden houses in the South Slope and will soon be moving to one of New York City’s grandest old dames, Gracie Mansion, which is also a wooden house. To prove our point, let’s look closer at these homes.
Do you remember seeing photos of de Blasio and his son Dante shoveling snow this winter? It was in front of a wood-frame rowhouse! In its current state, the house has a brick-front ground level and is covered in vinyl siding. However, his neighbor has done a great job in restoring their home, giving us a peek at what the de Blasio residence could look like underneath the siding. We also like that it still has a stoop, giving us a clue about the features that were once on its neighbors.
Restored blue wood frame rowhouse.
And just in case you’re doubting that his house is in fact a wood-frame rowhouse, allow us to present exhibit A:
Fire insurance map from 1880
This close up is from an 1880s map, so we know this stretch on 11th Street is more than 134 years old! Remember from our previous post, yellow indicates it is constructed of wood. Pink indicates brick or brownstone. We wonder if the de Blasio family is aware they own a little piece of history?
Fire insurance map from 1907
Here is a close up from a 1907 map just to show you how the block developed with more brick and brownstone row homes in less than 30 years. Once again, the wood-frame rowhouses were the early settlers (as we like to call them) on Brooklyn’s urban lots.
We love these porches!
You know from previous posts that we are absolutely smitten with 382 and 384 11th Street. Well, number 384 is owned by the de Blasio family and has been a rental for several years. You can read more about him being an “awesome landlord.” What we really care about here at Wooden House Project is that he owns a home on this stretch of 11th Street between 6th and 5th avenues that is well preserved and even retains its porch.
Gracie Mansion — talk about porches!
Finally, our new Mayor and his family plan to reside in what has been the home of many New York City’s mayors since 1942, Gracie Mansion. Just to reiterate, Gracie Mansion is also a historic wood-frame house. Yes, we’ll agree that it is certainly of a higher style than our little wood-frame rowhouses, but made of timbers nonetheless! Now if we didn’t know any better, it seems Mr. Bill de Blasio is a fan of wooden houses and a supporter of the Wooden House Project!
Friends, what do you think?
Curious about how we found these maps or historic photos? Join us on April 23rd for our “Research Your Historic Brooklyn House” workshop and we’ll teach you the tricks of the trade. See you there!
by Chelcey Berryhill