Formstone, Permastone, Wooden House Project, Brooklyn

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.

So, if you’ll oblige me, I’ll jump into my first topic…


If you haven’t yet jumped aboard the wooden house train, hopefully this one will convince you.¬†Earlier in the week we received an email from a wonderful couple who – yay! – recently purchased a house on 11th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues in Gowanus. I am familiar with and love this eclectic little block (I’ve never written about this one, but have covered adjacent blocks here and here).

The c. 1940 tax photo above is clearly channeling Webster Place, but like so many other little gems like this, it wound up with the aluminum treatment.

Fortunately, it’s in good hands >

158 10th Street

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Brooklyn’s fanciest frame rowhouses. Neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, and Park Slope contain remarkable examples of richly-decorated wooden facades of the “gingerbread” type. But if I can be 100% honest, I have a soft spot for Brooklyn’s less celebrated blocks, many of which are lined with tiny frame houses. Eighth Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets is one such example. Tenth Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues in Gowanus is another.

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Where warehouses now stand in the shadows of the Gowanus Expressway, wooden houses once dotted the streets.

Historic image courtesy New York Public Library