As the unrelenting city summer finally gives way to a cooler fall, it’s just about the right time to tackle some outdoor projects and consider the pretty little plants above. They’re the source of one of the most reliably simple and time tested wood treatments in the wooden house owners arsenal of upkeep and repair. This treatment also happens to be one of the most sustainable and earth-friendly wood finishes. Oh, and did I mention, it’s also easy on the wallet?
Welcome to our first ever “Best of Instagram” post! Whether you’re walking the streets of Brooklyn, or stumbling upon wood-frames in your travels, we want to see them! We hope to add more of your photos every week, so please keep instagraming. All you need to do is add the #woodenhouseproject to your photo and we’ll display your works of art each week.
The photos above come from our travels this summer to New Orleans, walking around Park Slope, and from Wooden House Project-follower ‘colombianbeef’ in East New York. Thank you all for sharing your photos with us, and we can’t wait to see what you find next week!
A meticulously restored Wooden House next to a diamond in the rough (321 15th Street)
by Arthur T. Rollin
Hello Wooden House Project fans! For some time now I have consumed the bountiful images of our borough’s wood-framed beauties on this site. Like you, I’ve gazed longingly at the detailed and colorful results of many a dedicated homeowner’s labors as they restore and preserve our unique built environment.
I’m Arthur Rollin, an architectural preservationist, history nerd and New Yorker with roots that run deep into Brooklyn’s past. I have recently been welcomed into the Wooden House Project team as a contributor of articles on conservation tips and techniques, and I hope my architectural experience and insatiable curiosity proves beneficial to the site’s readership.
Whether you have questions about restoring a wooden house of your own, or simply are interested in looking at this city with a different perspective, I’ll be here to help. Please do chime in or share photos of your own restoration project or something curious you see while walking down the street. I’ll always be looking for new topics and hope to tailor posts to be as useful as possible.
457 12th Street
By now you all know that while I don’t entirely hate vinyl siding, I still love to dream about what’s underneath it. But you know what’s also fun? Looking the other way — at what some of my favorite restored houses looked like way back when. Back in, say, the 1980s. Bring on the vinyl!
Fortunately for me, the New York City Department of Records (aka Municipal Archives) has digitized the “tax photos” they took of every single building c. 1980 (they did this as well c. 1940). So for today’s post I’ve rounded up some of my favorite South Slope gingerbread houses — the ones I talk about a lot here! — and compared them back to what they looked like pre-restoration. All historic photos below are presented courtesy of the Municipal Archives.
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?
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.