It’s walking tour season and Wooden House Project has two upcoming tours for you to join! We’re partnering with Brooklyn Historical Society and Preservation Greenpoint to tour the Wallabout Historic District and the wood frame houses of Greenpoint. See ya real soon!
November 2, 2013
Partnering with Brooklyn Historical Society
Recently landmarked, the Wallabout Historic District contains one of the largest concentrations of intact pre-Civil War wood-frame rowhouses in the entire city! Come take a stroll with Chelcey Berryhill and Elizabeth Finkelstein as we explore the neighborhood’s fascinating early roots and address some of the challenges to preserving these rare historic structures. Along the way, we’ll visit the former home of poet Walt Whitman and discuss the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s role in the development of modern-day Wallabout.
November 9, 2013
Partnering with Preservation Greenpoint
Join Elizabeth and Chelcey as they travel through Greenpoint to discover its hidden gems and industrial history. The tour will take you through the historic district to the jaw-dropping preserved wood frames and beyond the boundaries to highlight some of the sites that make you want to say “Hmm….” From pencil manufacturing to bath houses, this excursion of Greenpoint will have tour goers appreciating and supporting the efforts of the Historic Districts Council “Six to Celebrate” organization Preservation Greenpoint.
Last spring, Chelcey, Sara and I were lucky enough to be invited inside the lovely Brooklyn Heights home of Robin Jaffe, who moved there three years ago with her family. Robin’s house at 72 Hicks Street is one of those drop-dead stunning Brooklyn Heights treasures — the kind I’ve walked by many times over and dreamt about. It’s not everyday one gets a peek inside on of the oldest wooden houses in Brooklyn. Luckily for you readers, we took a lot of pictures.
Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
For today’s post, we are spreading some of our wooden house appreciation a bit to the northeast to Boston, Massachusetts. Feast your eyes on this wooden beauty! This photograph documents a block of near identical wooden houses –complete with wooden brackets, window shudders and lintels as well as decorative iron railings. This was taken by photographer Walker Evans in 1930 and is featured in the new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art entitled “Walker Evans: American Photographs.” The exhibit debuted on July 19, 2013 and runs through January 26, 2014. A special thank you to James Mahoney of the New York City Historic Properties Fund for bringing this gem to our attention! According to our source, these homes still exist and one even retains its original gingerbread! If anyone is familiar with this block and has a recent photograph, please send to us so we can post and share with our adoring wooden house community.
- Lisa Santoro
505 West 160th Street
by Chelcey Berryhill
Today we’re hopping across the East River to introduce you to Charles, one of the original members of the Wooden House Project. While he may not write posts for us, his legacy and dedication to documenting all of the wooden houses in Manhattan certainly lives on! For nine months, Charles scoured the entire island of Manhattan in an effort to document all of its remaining wood-frame buildings. We think it’s safe to say he started the Wooden House Project with this effort back in 1932.
Wood-frame houses are far more scarce in Manhattan than in Brooklyn simply because Brooklyn developed later. Because of fires, Manhattan got its act together long before Brooklyn, outlawing wood-frame construction in its denser sections at an early date. I find myself often scrolling through the nearly 600 photographs in the Charles Von Urban photographic collection online at the Museum of the City of New York. While it’s hard to choose my favorites, here is a crack at it with a handful of photographs that make me smile and say “thank you,” Mr. Charles Von Urban! (all photos in this post presented courtesy of MCNY).
Clinton Hill! We love it. Mansions. Villas. Carriages houses. Wooden houses galore. Recently we climbed a steep stoop to spend a rainy Saturday morning inside one of the most interesting of the bunch: 223 Washington Avenue, near the corner of Willoughby. Lately we can’t seem to stop comparing these shingled houses to sweets. Built ca. 1850 and originally occupied by a flour merchant named Billings Wheeler (which we think is a fantastic name), the house is just an all-around delight, inside and out!
In preparation for an upcoming post, we asked a big question on Facebook today.
What is your favorite wooden house in Brooklyn?
Head on over to Facebook to join the discussion!
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.
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!