It’s walking tour season and Wooden House Project has two upcoming tours for you to join! We’re partnering with Brooklyn Historical Society and Preservation Greenpoint to tour the Wallabout Historic District and the wood frame houses of Greenpoint. See ya real soon!
November 2, 2013
Partnering with Brooklyn Historical Society
Recently landmarked, the Wallabout Historic District contains one of the largest concentrations of intact pre-Civil War wood-frame rowhouses in the entire city! Come take a stroll with Chelcey Berryhill and Elizabeth Finkelstein as we explore the neighborhood’s fascinating early roots and address some of the challenges to preserving these rare historic structures. Along the way, we’ll visit the former home of poet Walt Whitman and discuss the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s role in the development of modern-day Wallabout.
November 9, 2013
Partnering with Preservation Greenpoint
Join Elizabeth and Chelcey as they travel through Greenpoint to discover its hidden gems and industrial history. The tour will take you through the historic district to the jaw-dropping preserved wood frames and beyond the boundaries to highlight some of the sites that make you want to say “Hmm….” From pencil manufacturing to bath houses, this excursion of Greenpoint will have tour goers appreciating and supporting the efforts of the Historic Districts Council “Six to Celebrate” organization Preservation Greenpoint.
We love Greenpoint! Our walking tour of the neighborhood’s great wooden houses is just over a week away. Sign up here!
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.
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?!
Over the years, the beauty of Brooklyn’s wood-frame row houses has been masked under all sorts of siding. The average passer-by has no way of knowing that underneath the siding could lie the bones of something magical.
Fortunately for us, the NYC Department of Records (aka the Municipal Archives) possesses a fantastic collection of photos that allows us to peel back the siding for a peak at what lies beneath. One only needs to know the home’s block and lot number (which can be searched HERE) to view its “Tax Photo” for free on microfilm at the Municipal Archives, or to order a clean copy for around $35.00. Tax Photos were taken by the City in the years between 1939 and 1941 as a tool for appraising properties, and in that time they snapped a photo of every single building in all five boroughs of New York. Today the collection is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to restore their house or research the history of their neighborhood.