Tuesday, March 31, 2009

209 Jefferson Ave.

The first Woolworth's store was founded with a loan of $300, in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth. Frank W. Woolworth was born on April 13, 1852, on a farm near Rodman in Jefferson County, New York. In 1875 a “99-cent store” opened in Watertown, and a merchant there decided to try the idea in Port Huron, Michigan. He took Woolworth along as a clerk and paid him a starting wage of $10 a week. When Woolworth proved to be a poor salesman, his salary was cut to $8.50 a week. He soon took ill, suffering a breakdown, and returned to Watertown. Back in Watertown, he met a waitress, Jennie Creighton, and married her in 1876. They had three daughters. One of Woolworth’s granddaughters was Barbara Hutton, a socialite who achieved notoriety for her many marriages.

1889/90 New York Directory

In 1886 Woolworth moved to a newly built house on 209 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, to be near wholesale suppliers. Taking advantage of the wide variety of goods available there, he assumed responsibility for purchasing merchandise for all of his stores. He added candy and was able to purchase it directly from the manufacturers. He also planned all of the window and counter displays for the chain. An admirer of the red color of A&P grocery stores, he designed the characteristic red store fronts for the Woolworth stores, adding the company name in gold letters.Despite growing to be one of the largest retail chains in the world through most of the 20th century, increased competition led to its decline beginning in the 1980s. In 1997, F. W. Woolworth Company converted itself into a sporting goods retailer, closing its remaining retail stores operating under the "Woolworth's" brand name and renaming itself Venator Group. By 2001, the company focused exclusively on the sporting goods market, changing its name to the present Foot Locker Inc.
209 Jefferson Avenue is a beautiful Neo-Grec brownstone that was built in 1886. The interior of this home has been changed a bit but many details from F.W. Woolworth time are still present. This home still has the beautiful herringbone floors and to my surprise a rather larger extension on the rear. A few houses on this row still have the original single storm protective door followed by the large double entry doors. This rather large row of identical Neo-Grec brownstones are rather nicely preserved on a beautiful treeline block that is not landmarked. Hopefully soon this house will be apart of the Bedford Historic District.Frank W. Woolworth

74 Halsey Street

This very unusual Halsey Street house first owned by the builder John D. and Annie Godwin was most likely built in the late 1880s. The Bedford Section as it was called in those days was experiencing a rather large building boom due to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge. At the time Brooklyn was trying to compete in buildings fine homes not only with its neighboring city across the east river but also cities across the pond such as London and Paris.
74 Halsey Street is a Queen Anne house with Romanesque details that has remained intact over the past 120 years. The pair of rusticated stone arches of the parlor floor window has this theme continues onto the top floor but with toothed brickworked bandcourses supported on brick corbels. The second floor bay window that supports a balcony above adds interesting depth to the facade of this house. The major element that makes this home stand out is the handsome wrough iron railings that escort you along the high stoop. You can read more about this house in the AIA guide to New York City. Hopefully this fine house soon will be in the new landmarked Bedford Historic District

Monday, March 30, 2009

571-579 Jefferson Ave in Stuyvesant Heights

These Jefferson Avenue beauties are in Stuyvesant Heights (but outside the current historic district) have a very unique identity of there own. Similar to a row built on Garfield Pl in Park Slope the Romanesque style townhouses were most likely constructed just before the turn of the twentieth century. Typical of the Romanesque style you have rounded arched doorways and round top windows. The combination's of texture and material with rough-hewn blocks and stone details of intertwined leafwork often called "Byzantine Leafwork" are very different of earlier brownstone facades . The asymmetrical massed roofline gives this block a different feel as you walk along Jefferson Avenue. This Brooklyn daily eagle article from 1900 shows the white painted house on the far left for sale.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fresh Prince of Bed-Stuy?

Before the days of rows of brownstones and large apartments buildings with retail below stood the large mansion of Rem Leffert. This June 25, 1893 New York Times article paints a beautiful picture of the Bedford Corners area around of yesterday. Today Arlington Place just off Fulton Street is a great little block which Spike Lee made famous in the movie Crooklyn. It would have been nice if this house could have been saved and moved to another location in the Bedford area.
Clove Road was the old road where Thomas Lambertse, May 14, 1700, sold his Bedford farm to Leffert Pieterse. Jacobus Lefferts, a son of Leffert Pieterse of Flatbush, was born 1686, and settled on this farm. On October 7, 1716, he married Jannetje Blom, daughter of Claes Barentse Blom, whom later had come to the U. S. in 1662. Blom sold to Jacobus Lefferts, who by trade was a carpenter, for the sum of 800 pounds. In 1725, his farm of 40 morgen at Bedford, bounded on the west side by land of Johannes Bergen (later of John Reyerson). Jacobus Lefferts lived in the farmhouse on the south west corner of Glove & Jamaica Roads, built about 1759 by Andries Andriese. It came with all the land in possession of Jacobus Lefferts. The house was surrounded by locust trees and it's roof gave shelter to Major Andre & General Greg. Jacobus died in 1768. His son, Leffer Lefferts then lived in the house. He was born 1727, and died 1804. His house was taken down in 1877. Judge Lefferts, son of Jacobus Lefferts & brother of Leffert Lefferts (1727-1804) was born in 1736 and died 1819. He lived on the northeast corner of Jamaica & Cripplebush Roads in the house formerly occupied by his father-in-law, Rem Remsen. Barents son, Rem Lefferts bought the house and put a new front on it in 1838. The house was built in the 18th century by Jeromus Remsen and was known at one time as John Lefferts house. The site was later known as Arlington Pl. & Fulton Street.

Monday, March 16, 2009

176-180 Hancock Street

Queen Anne Style buildings in America came into vogue in the 1880s, replacing the French-derived Second Empire as the "style of the moment." The popularity of high Queen Anne Style waned in the early 1900s. In the book Bricks and Brownstones by Charles Lockwood during the 1880s and the life of Queen Anne style, the architectural fashion that each row house have a measure of individuality and the streetscape a visually exciting appearance reached its culmination. The present "epoch of Queen Anne is a delightful insurrection against the monotonous era of rectangular building," declared one magazine in the early 1880s.
These three brownstones completed in 1886 on Hancock Street in the Bedford Historic District were built by brothers Messa, and George G. Hallock . Alfred T. Lawrence built 180 for his family. You find these families still living in these these Queen Anne Brownstones according to the 1900 census but the Hallock brother are deceased. George Hallock was 51 years old in 1896 when he passed away at his residence 196 Hancock. Unfortunately none of these great houses are landmarked protected at the present time.

Please click on the census to view larger image.

68 Macon Street

This beautiful brick semi detached was probably built sometime in 1890s. The mix of neo-Romanesque and Queen Anne style architecture makes this house stand out from many others on this beautiful treeline Macon Street block. Located in the non landmark section of Bedford Stuyvesant his house was owned by the Stephen and Amelia Hoff at the turn of the 20th century. Before the Hoff's moved into this house it was rented out to the Walter family according to the 1900 census. The 1899 ad posted above from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle shows this house with the conservatory (which is still intact today) is in the "select" neighborhood of Bedford. Hopefully this pre-turn of the century home will be protected soon by being in the Bedford Historic District.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

John C. Kelly House 247 Hancock St.

Often called the Queen of Hancock Street this Montrose Morris house was built in the 1880s for water meter king John C. Kelly. This Romanesque and Queen Anne design house was model after the W. H. Vanderbilt house on fifth Ave. in Manhattan. This house is not on a landmarked blocked which is full of Montrose Morris designed homes. We hope that this wonderful Brooklyn block becomes part of the Bedford Historic District.

Bedford Stuyvesant

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bedford-Stuyvesant is the amalgam of two middle-class communities of the old City of Brooklyn: Bedford, the western por­tion, and Stuyvesant Heights, to the east. Today's Bedford ­Stuyvesant is one of the city's two major black enclaves; the other is its peer, Harlem. Often called Bed-Stuy it differs from its Manhattan counterpart in its much larger percentage of home owners, although Harlem is rapidly following its lead in gentrifying its own blocks. The southern and western portions comprise masonry row housing of distinguished architectural quality and vigorous churches whose spires contribute to the area's fre­quently lacy skyline. At one time the northeastern reaches have considerable numbers of wooden tenements, containing some of the nation's worst slums now have new buildings rising everyday. But on the whole, Bed-Stuy has a reputation that doesn't fit with reality: a stable community with hundreds of blocks of well-kept town houses.Where Bedford-Stuyvesant has distinguished architecture, it is very good. Its facades of brownstones and brickfronts create a magnificent town scape as good as-and sometimes better than-many fashionable areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Parts of Chauncey, Decatur, MacDonough, Jefferson, Halsey and Macon Streets, and the southern end of Stuyvesant Avenue, are superb. Hancock Street, between Nostrand and Tompkins Avenues, was considered a showplace in its time (why not now too?). Alice and Agate Courts, short cul-de-sacs isolated from the macro­cosm of the street system, are particularly special places in the seemingly endless, anonymous grid.
Bed-Stuy comprises roughly 2,000 acres and houses 400,000 people, making it among the 30 largest American cities.