Is Cobble Hill doomed to Manhattanization?

May 31, 2012 By Trudy Whitman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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It will be tough for Cobble Hill to avoid Manhattanization, a preservation expert told the Cobble Hill Association’s spring meeting.

Christabel Gough, described by Cobble Hill Association President Roy Sloane as the “landmark lion of the West Village,” asked rhetorically, “How do you Manhattanize a historic townhouse?”

Here’s how: You do it through “stupidity,” Gough said, by gutting it, throwing away details, removing floors, adding a pool, and expanding on top, in back and underneath.

Gough warned that this “is trending toward Brooklyn,” propelled by “moneyed society with no ties to the past.”

Brooklyn must be vigilant in guarding against “looming architectural consequences,” she said.

Cobble Hill’s open backyard garden configuration, commonly referred to as the “donut,” should not be taken for granted, Gough cautioned, pointing out that the backyards in Greenwich Village used to look like those of Brownstone Brooklyn until the encroachment of too many additions.

Cobble Hill Association President Roy Sloane presented “Hero Awards” to Gough and to historian Francis Morrone.

“Historic districts are more than brick and mortar,” Sloane said.

Gough, founder and current secretary of the Society for the Architecture of the City, attends meetings of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Armed with passion and research, she has helped the Cobble Hill Association battle those seeking to breach the historic district’s landmark rules, according to Sloane.

Among Morrone’s services to the neighborhood is the development of a Cobble Hill wiki — an online database with information on every structure in Cobble Hill.

“If I did not live in Park Slope, I would live in Cobble Hill,” Morrone said.

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