New Park Place Historic District designated by Landmarks Commission

June 27, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Compiled by Linda Collins

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

CROWN HEIGHTS — A new historic district in Brooklyn has been designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The new Park Place Historic District, between Bedford and Franklin avenues in Crown Heights, is comprised of 13 Romanesque-style rowhouses constructed circa-1890.

“After more than 120 years, this fine row still has a romantic quality to it, and that’s largely due to the fact that all of the houses have retained so much of their historic fabric,” said LPC Chairman Robert Tierney. “That’s a tribute to their previous owners and current owners, each of whom had an important role at the very beginning of the designation process and supported it every step of the way.”

Tuesday’s vote on the new district came during the LPC’s final meeting of fiscal year 2012, which ends June 30.

Description of district

Following are excerpts from the LPC description:

“The 13 Queen Anne- and Romanesque Revival-style row houses comprising the Park Place Historic District were completed in 1890. In recent years, this section has come to be known by its former name, Crow Hill.

This view is of 671 Park Place. Image courtesy of the LPC“The buildings were constructed as single-family homes for the upper middle class by Frederick W. and Walter S. Hammett, brothers from Philadelphia, on property owned by their father, Barnabas Hammett, considered a major figure in coal mining.

“The row was designed by Joseph Mason Kirby, a carpenter and house builder who also constructed Lucy the Elephant, a 65-foot-high, wood-framed and tin-covered elephant in Margate, N.J., as well as a 122-foot-high elephant-shaped building on the Coney Island beach that was completed around 1884 and destroyed by fire in 1896.

“Kirby also constructed 30 houses along Glenmore Avenue in East New York and  on Decatur and Bainbridge streets in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“Despite its name, the Queen Anne style of architecture had little to do with Queen Anne (1702 to 1714). The picturesque style, rather, recalls the modest dwellings located near Gothic churches that were built during the Middle Ages and features exuberantly detailed and richly textured, asymmetrical facades and steeply pitched roofs often topped by multiple gables with patterned slate shingles.

“The style became popular in many of Brooklyn’s row house districts, including Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights North.

“Mott B. Schmidt, the renowned American architect, was raised at 671 Park Place and lived there for a short time following his studies at Pratt Institute. He specialized in composing Colonial Revival residences, including the Susan Wagner Wing of Gracie Mansion.

“During the Great Depression, many owners in the district started to take in boarders, and at least four of the buildings were converted to multiple dwellings by the end of the 1950s.

“The 13 houses are of three types, arranged in a symmetrical “A-B-A-BB-C-A-C-B-B-A-B-A configuration with either flat or pitched roofs, and feature richly decorated, textured facades with patterned brickwork ornamented with projecting knobs. All of the houses retain their stoops and iron railings, and are united by corbelled brick colonettes that are decorated with sunflower plaques.”

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