Friday, August 6, 2010

G. A. Schellenger Architect

Hancock Street G. A. Schellenger homes 1883-1885

Jefferson Ave G. A. Schellenger homes built 1884-87

The future Bedford Historic District had many famous architects (or Starchitects) from the Victorian era who designed most of the buildings. One such architect was Gilbert A. Schellenger. Schellenger was born to Rueben Riggs Schellenger and Esther Perry on December 21, 1845, in the town of Stockholm, NY. Schellenger grew up in a very large family. His father was a mechanic/carpenter which was had a common tradition producing architect sons. Schellenger studied at the prestigious and world famous L’Ecole des Beaux Artes in Paris but dropped out to accept the commission for a new city hall and opera house in Ogdensburg County.Schellenger along with his first wife Jennie came to New
G. A. Schellenger house around 1900

York City in 1883 and right away he started working on various projects. His earlest New York townhouses are here in Bedford Stuyvesant but on the Bedford side. At that time Bedford as it was called then was a rather choice neighborhood with upper middle class families dominating its blocks. Schellenger Bedford buildings are on Hancock Street and Jefferson Avenue and where done for builder George Stone. Stone lived in a Schellenger designed house at 301 Jefferson in the proposed historic district was the owner and builder of these lots.
Jefferson Ave G. A. Schellenger homes built in the early 1890's

G. A. Schellenger use the Queen Anne and Roman Brick Renaissance Revival style for most of his homes on Jefferson Avenue and Hancock Street. His brownstone stoops and wood cathedral doors are surrounded by crowned pediments. Schellenger likes to play with his skyline making all of his roofs have a language of there own. Many of the house have three sided bay windows or rather large arched picture windows that are typical of the Queen Anne style. Many of the first owners of these house were Physicians, Stock Brokers, Insurance men, Lawyers and Merchants.
Jefferson Ave in 1954

These homes where built for the upper middle class that wanted to live in the choice Bedford Section following 1883 Brooklyn Bridge opening. By 1885 Schellenger had designed 10 homes on Hancock Street as well as Jefferson Avenue and would later design a few more for George Stone. Schellenger houses built in 1887 Jefferson Ave.

G. A. Schellenger would go on and turn his attention to Manhattan clients, I am sure they paid very well compared to the Brooklyn developers. G. A. Schellenger would design many of stately homes on the Upper West (and East) Side of Manhattan and Harlem. If you read the LPC reports for Manhattan his name is everywhere making him a very busy man during the 1890's. Schellenger designed many fine apartments and dorms (for Columbia University) that still stand today. At 128 Broadway he completed plans for the Salvation Army National Headquarters which was noted in the New York Times. G. A. Schellenger also did a few buildings in Crown Heights and Prospect Heights later in the 1880s and 1890s. Schellenger interior built 1884
In my research I do not find him designing any buildings in the Stuyvesant Heights section of the neighborhood.
Gilbert Alphonso Schellenger died on November 22, 1921 while visiting his sister Alta Schellenger Taylor in Massachusetts. I am truly thankful that this NYC super architect of the 1890's designed lovely homes here in Bedford section of Bedford Stuyvesant in the 1880's. His houses are just as beautiful as other architect rivals such as John Prague, George Chappell and Montrose Morris. Some residents are starting to restore these grand house to there original grandeur. If you walk down or Hancock Street between Nostrand and Marcy or Jefferson between Marcy and Tompkins you see all his great works looking as stately as the day erected. Most if not all of G. A. Schellenger buildings are landmarked in Manhattan, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights. His earliest homes in New York City are in Bedford Stuyvesant and not protected. I really hope this changes very soon.

1900 census for Jefferson and Hancock.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, How can I get in touch with you. I'd like to have you work with me on a Bed-Stuy news site that is launching soon. Do you have an email?