Brooklyn Heights

‘Asphalt Jungle’ no more: Historic Brooklyn Heights house sheds shingles in renovation

August 5, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Finally! Asphalt shingles have been stripped from the front of 113 Willow St. in Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Clapboard is making a comeback — on Willow Street.

An 1820s-vintage row house on the landmarked Brooklyn Heights street has been liberated from unsightly asphalt shingles that covered it for decades.

Now that workers have removed faded ghostly-looking shingles from the front of 113 Willow St., wood planks from a bygone era are there for all the world to see, above a basement floor covered with rosy brick.

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“It’s going to be gray, the original color,” a worker told the Brooklyn Eagle of the clapboard uncovered during the renovation project. “The house will be done in three months. The interior is 80% finished.”

The clapboard that surfaced is covered with paint that looks like it was gray a long, long time ago.

Another exterior feature that’s starting to shape up is an eye-catching cast-iron entrance porch that was added to the home in the middle of the 19th Century.

Layers of paint have been removed, revealing delicate detailing on metal flowers and leaves in the porch design.

The stunning house that’s been hiding under asphalt and man-made fiber shingles is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The architect of record for 113 Willow’s renovation is Michael Gadaleta of MG New York Architects — whose firm has handled important historic preservation projects such as the restoration of the landmarked former Bowery Savings Bank at 110 E. 42nd St. in Manhattan.

The Eagle has been keeping an eye on 113 Willow St. since last summer, when renovation got underway following its $2.9 million sale in December 2012 to 1113 Willow Street LLC.

Last fall, there was a first hint of what the house could look like when workers stripped asphalt shingles from the side of it, which stands inches away from an apartment building at 115 Willow St. They uncovered sturdy planks, which a contractor thought probably are the original timber used to build the house.

The side of the house was later covered with a construction shroud and rendered invisible to passersby.

Roofing shingles had covered the home at least since 1960, when Clay Lancaster, a specialist in American architecture, wrote an all-important survey of pre-Civil War buildings in Brooklyn Heights. It was later published as “Old Brooklyn Heights: New York’s First Suburb.”

The survey was instrumental in getting the neighborhood designated as New York City’s very first historic district. 


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