Brooklyn Heights

Landmarks Preservation Commission says respect that tea porch at 8 Montague Terrace

November 24, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Landmarks Preservation Commission decided the balconies on this proposed renovation of 8 Montague Terrace should be smaller. Rendering by HS2 Architecture via the Landmarks Preservation Commission
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Bring out the Earl Grey in the good bone china cups, and drink a toast. The tea porch at 8 Montague Terrace is going to be restored.

Brooklyn Heights is one of the few places in New York City where the houses are old enough to have tea porches — and they’ve been left intact.

These porches are attached to the back parlors of 19th-Century houses, so they’re usually invisible to the public.

But the back of this Anglo-Italianate-style rowhouse faces the Promenade, one of Brooklyn’s most popular visitor magnets. The green cast-iron tea porch is perched right above the park’s Remsen Street entrance.  

On Tuesday, Thomas Hut of HS2 Architecture presented a renovation plan for 8 Montague Terrace at a Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing at the city agency’s Lower Manhattan headquarters.

The plan included the addition of third- and fourth-floor balconies made of painted metal that would stretch across the entire width of the building. Several commissioners objected.

“They are inappropriate when applied to such an important house,” said Commissioner Frederick Bland, who lives in Brooklyn Heights. “They detract from the primacy of the tea house.”

Commissioner John Gustafsson said the proposed balconies “would convert this from Brooklyn Heights to New Orleans. It’s gilding the lily.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve Hut’s restoration plan with modifications — including reducing the size of the balconies so they don’t diminish the prominence of the tea porch.

The restoration of the tea porch is part of a project to convert the 11,000-square-foot multi-family building into a single-family home. According to city Buildings Department documents, 8 Montague Terrace is currently divided into eight residential units.

The rowhouse was built between 1861 and 1879, according to LPC records.

The owner, Teresa Viola, bought the building for $8 million in 2007, city Finance Department records indicate.

The house has 10 wood-burning fireplaces.

A previous owner of 8 Montague Terrace was Edward “Daddy” Browning, the Brooklyn Eagle previously reported.

The rich early 20th-Century real estate developer was 51 when he wed Frances Heenan — a 16-year-old high-school dropout he nicknamed Peaches. She left him after less than six months of marriage. Their salacious divorce trial turned into a 1920s media circus.


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