Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1952:
“Charred (frame) house as wedding backdrop: Andrew Kuriplach and his daughter Jean leave the charred remains of a house at 52 Clay St., scene of recent five alarm fire at a Greenpoint warehouse. They are headed for St. Cyril Methodius R. C. Church where Miss Kuriplach married Sgt. Robert Dolney. The newlyweds had planned to live in this house before it was hit by fire, but now they will make their home in the house behind this one, where the bride’s family resides.”
More on the fire in the New York Times.
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.
The Wooden House Project is now on Instagram! Follow us here and be sure to tag all of your photos #woodenhouseproject – we’ll be featuring a photo from the pool each week. Or visit our Get Involved page for other ways to connect with us!
Back in 1995, when the NY Times reported on the wooden house at 59 South Elliott Place in Fort Greene, historian Christopher Gray referred to the whimsical blue shingled house as an “ice cream sundae amidst the roast beef of its more prosaic neighbors.” I like that.
What makes this eclectic house stand out is not only its eccentric massing, its recessed columned porch, or its open oriels that project from the top floor in a castle-like fashion (it is also not just because Othniel Boaz Askew lived here until 2003, when he was dramatically killed by the police moments after assassinating his local councilmember on the balcony in City Hall). What one instantly notices on this house are the blue scalloped shingles, which were first added to the facade in 1892 and restored not all that long ago when the house underwent a significant renovation.
Humboldt Street was once a colonnade row! This spectacular block went through some big changes just after the above photo was taken in 1922. By the time the following photo was taken 13 years later (1935), things had begun to look very different. Would you ever guess this was Greenpoint?!