by Chelcey Berryhill
After writing about the soon-to-be loss on 11th Street and 4th Avenue, you can bet we’re excited to see not one but TWO wooden houses up for public hearings this week at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Although we may be a bit biased here at the Wooden House Project, I must say these houses are quite deserving of the individual landmark status!
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!
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?
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!
Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Wallabout Historic District, which encompasses approximately 55 buildings on Vanderbilt between Park & Myrtle Avenues in north Brooklyn. Wallabout contains the largest concentration of pre-Civil War era wood-frame houses in the entire city, and many of them have been lovingly preserved despite a lack of landmark protections so far. Two beauties are 143 & 145 Vanderbilt Avenue (shown above), built together in c. 1850.