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by Chelcey Berryhill

There are precious few wood-frame houses remaining in Prospect Heights today. Two of them — Nos. 578 & 580 Carlton Avenue — have long since been loved, but work is being done on both. No. 580 is today a mere shell (only the facade stands), and today the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hear the application to demolish parts of No. 578 in preparation for a renovation. The hearing on the new design will take place in the coming weeks.

But what did these gems used to look like?

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by Lisa Santoro

As a child growing up in Marine Park, the Lott House was an enigma to me. Amidst a block of prototypical Marine Park homes of brick and siding with neatly manicured front yards and carports, there stood the Lott House, in stark juxtaposition to its surroundings. Despite not knowing much about the building, I was utterly fascinated by it. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. I was proud to have such a historic treasure in my proverbial back yard, something that I — in my young mind — felt my neighborhood was otherwise lacking. Although I would not have known it at the time, this was my first true combined appreciation of architecture and history as well as the recognition of the importance of such a site within the community. But as grandiose as it was to me, it was also a frightening sight to behold, given its state of disrepair and decay. As a result, the neighborhood kids would attest that the house was haunted. Which made sense. It was, after all, an old, wooden, rickety, presumably abandoned home, surrounded by a large parcel of land full of overgrown weeds and often littered with trash. For years, the Lott House remained in this state. A building that had all the potential to be a neighborhood treasure had been reduced to a broken-down eyesore. This is my memory of the Lott House in the early 1990s.

Yet as I write this piece, my childhood treasure is undergoing restoration. The newly-restored Hendrick Lott House is anticipated to be open to the public in the Spring of 2014.

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Clinton Hill lovelies. More on Instagram! #woodenhouseproject

Ditmas Residents Push for Landmarks Extension [Brownstoner]
Documenting Wooden Phone Booths in Manhattan [Ephemeral New York]
An Obsession With Brooklyn’s Wood Frame Houses [thanks, Brownstoner!]
How are the wooden houses faring on 15th Street in Gowanus? [IMBY]
From a while back, but shows off great details in a Harlem wood-frame [Harlem Bespoke]

Over the river and through the woods…

For the Love of Vinyl Siding [This Old House]
A Southern Craftsman Restoration [Southern Living]
Rescue Me: 28 Spring Street [Newburgh Restoration]
Transforming Old Barns Into Beautiful Historic Properties [Green Mountain Timber Frames]

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Wooden houses on Hall Street display an array of beautiful canopies

Earlier this week we received an email from an owner:

I’m interested in adding a beautiful canopy to the front entrance of my wood framed house in Greenwood Heights. It would be great if you could post some pictures of ideas as well as some contractors who could do this type of work.

Ask and you shall receive!

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Brooklyn Heights was the first incorporated village in the original city of Brooklyn, and thus has some of the oldest (and many of our favorite!) wood frame houses in the borough. This corner may be unrecognizable to us today, but we know it as a site that held one of our most beloved periodicals.

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Photo courtesy Pratt Center for Community Development

Meet the Makers is a new column authored by the lovely Sara Durkacs and focusing on the artists and craftsmen that help make our houses great. To suggest a maker for Sara to visit, please get in touch!

It all starts with a brainstorm of doodles. And then it continues with a series of evolving, feathery pencil lines, the hint of a future bas or high relief wood carving by Deborah Mills, proprietor of the eponymous studio located in Long Island City. “The design process is a huge part of what I do before carving,” explains Mills, “before the wood disappears forever.” Tucked inside the contemporary sunny studio, Mills employs similar carving techniques as used by the ancient Egyptians more than a millennia ago.

Mills’s one-of-a-kind carvings bring the charm of a wooden house’s exterior inside and help to amplify its owner’s unique personality.

The possibilities are as endless as her doodles!

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I simply don’t know what I’d do without the Brooklyn Historical Society. I credit most of my Brooklyn knowledge to its wonderful collections, which are invaluable to anyone looking to research a house’s history. If you fall into that camp (and since you’re reading this I assume you do), head on over to the BHS library on the corner of Pierrepont & Clinton Streets and spend an afternoon in one of the most stunning interiors in all of Brooklyn. While there, you’ll probably encounter Elizabeth Call, Special Collections Librarian.

Since the Wooden House Projects gets so many questions about how to research your house, I thought I’d spend some time with Liz getting her take on the collections that would be most interesting to our readers.

Read on for some tips of the trade!

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What’s happening in the world of wooden houses and everything in between:

Photo Flashback: 6th Avenue and 21st Street [South Slope News]
413 Dean Street [Brownstoner]
Brooklyn’s Wooden Treasures Spared a Vinyl-Siding Fate [Brooklyn Based]
East Meets West in Century-Old House South of Prospect Park [Curbed NY]
Are there any wood frame Apothecaries left in Brooklyn? [Brooklyn Historical Society Blog]
Another Wreck on Market [Brownstoner]

Over the river and through the woods….

New Orleans Architecture [LiLu Interiors]
A bit old, but certainly useful for anyone Living in a Rowhouse [Apartment Therapy]
Real Estate: 21 Henry Ave $135,000 Near the Bluff [Newburgh Restoration]
Tax credits fuel $100 million in historic building rehabilitation [Bangor Daily News]
Cottage Gardens [This Old House]

Our picks for the weekend:

We’re leading our Gingerbread Houses of the South Slope walking tour at 11am on Sunday! Afterward, head on down to Victorian Flatbush for a rare peek inside some old wooden beauties.

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This coming Saturday, the residents of the beautiful block of 14th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues (a wooden house haven!) will be hosting a block party. The Wooden House Project is excited to be attending the party and helping to man the history table. Stop by for a visit!

I had gotten excited upon finding a photo in the collection of the New York Public Library that was labeled “14th Street looking west from 6th Avenue,” which would have meant that it was a photo of that block. Alas, the label was wrong — this is actually looking west from 7th Avenue — but that’s ok. A beautiful street nonetheless!

What do these buildings look like today?

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Ah, the Mansard roof! A wood-frame house with a cherry on top. I must admit, I love ALL Mansard roofs, no matter the house material. Though they are by no means unique to wooden houses, there is something about finding this high-style feature adapted to the vernacular frame house that makes me smile. But what is the genesis of this much-beloved architectural element?

Who doesn’t love a fad borrowed from Paris?

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Finding beautiful wood-frames in Brooklyn? Follow us on instagram and #woodenhouseproject

What’s happening in the world of wooden houses and everything in between:

70 Lefferts Place [Brownstoner]
13th Street, Sold? [Rutenberg Realty]
Fallen Tree, Schmallen Tree [CWB Architects]
Beautiful interior renovation of a frame house — wondering what the exterior looks like! [NY Mag]
…and we’re anxiously waiting to know how the  Milktrout kitchen in Gowanus is shaping up [theSweeten]

Over the river and through the woods….

In My Dreams [Big Old Houses]
The Arlington Italianate House [This Old House]
Dreaming of strolling through Savannah… [Savannah Secrets]
Rescue Me: 52 Chambers Street [Newburgh Restoration]
Living in a 1912 Schoolhouse [Dwell]

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Today’s “Then & Now” features some lovely porches & spindles on Dean Street near the corner of 4th Avenue in 1929.

But how about today?

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Spindles add whimsy to wooden houses in the South Slope, Fort Greene, Greenwood Heights and Clinton Hill

Spindles = Instant Gingerbread! We’re in love with many things about today’s featured house at 223 Washington Avenue, but the small architectural details on its facade truly make the house special. The small covered entranceway is decorated with a ribbon of beautiful spindle work, giving it an added layer of pure whimsy. The ornamental use of spindles along porches and railings became popular during the Victorian era and was found in homes designed in the Eastlake and Queen Anne styles.

Where can I find some of these beauties?

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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!

And now, a peek inside!

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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!

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Fire insurance map of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in 1907

We all know it’s possible to live in a wooden house disguised as a brownstone. But do you ever wonder if clapboard or shingles actually lay hiding under your stucco, vinyl or aluminum exterior? Today, the Wooden House project presents a surefire method to determine your house’s primary material.

So tell me! What is my house made of?

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Me too!

Share the love with a letterpress print by inhauspress.

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Love pretty pictures of Brooklyn’s wooden houses? Follow us on Instagram.

What’s happening in the world of wooden houses and everything in between:

Little Brooklyn House Hides Vast Interiors [Curbed NY]
 More Brooklyn Buildings on the Road for Landmarking [Brownstoner]
Abandoned Greenhouse in Brooklyn [Destroyed and Abandoned]
 Weekend DIYs: 10 Wood Molding Projects for the Home [Apartment Therapy]

Over the river and through the woods…

Habitat for Humanity gives a nod to historic wood-frame neighborhoods in Newburgh [Newburgh Restoration]
Facade Focus: Charred Cedar [Dwell]
Laser Scanning the “Two Sisters” Historic Wooden Homes in Fell’s Point for The Preservation Society [Baltimore Heritage]