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!
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!
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!