Boerum Hill

A Neo-Classical newspaper-printing plant and other Boerum Hill eye candy

Eye on Real Estate

December 6, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This Neo-Classical Boerum Hill public school building is a former New York Times printing plant. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

There’s a monumental building that looks kinda like a Neo-Classical temple and has the New York Times‘ name inscribed on a doorsill — on Third Avenue in Boerum Hill, of all places.

On another doorsill of the dignified building at 59-75 Third Ave. there’s a name that was placed there more recently: Math & Science Exploratory School M.S. 447.

This public-school building began its existence as a New York Times printing plant. The cornerstone was laid in 1930.

The newspapers printed there were sold in Brooklyn and Queens and on Long Island.

When we conjure up mental images of old-fashioned Boerum Hill architectural eye candy, the first things that come to mind are of course 19th-century brownstones and rowhouses.

Nevertheless, the former printing plant, which spans the Third Avenue block between Pacific and Dean streets, is near the top of our list of fine sights to see in the neighborhood.

The former printing plant is made of “rich materials” including “buff marble, green granite, bronze and copper,” the late Christopher Gray wrote in a 1994 “Streetscapes” column in the New York Times.

There is Art Deco ornamentation on its facade.

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This architect designed the River Rouge Plant

The architect who designed the distinguished-looking printing plant was Albert Kahn, one of America’s foremost 20th-century architects.

Kahn also designed the west wing of the landmarked former New York Times Building at 217-247 W. 43rd St. in Manhattan.

He is remembered especially for his Detroit factory designs.

If you’re an art lover, you’re familiar with the River Rouge Plant that Kahn designed in Dearborn, Michigan. Artist Charles Sheeler did a series of paintings of this Ford Motor Co. factory complex in the 1930s.

A final word about the Times’ Brooklyn printing plant.

Over the years, it has passed through various owners’ hands.

Since 1974, it has belonged to the City of New York, which bought it for $1,187,500 from the New York Institute of Technology, city Finance Department records indicate.

Lovable churches and Helen Buckler’s old house

A complete list of eye-pleasing Boerum Hill buildings would fill a book.

Here are a few highlights:

* The Baptist Temple at 360 Schermerhorn St. is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Romanesque Revival-style church, which is on the corner of Third Avenue, was designed by architecture firm Weary & Kramer and constructed in 1893-1894. It was reconstructed after a 1917 fire. Architecture firm Dodge & Morrison was in charge of the rebuilding.

The church’s current occupant is the Recovery House of Worship Brooklyn.

* Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 490 Pacific St. was built in 1894.

The brick church on the corner of Third Avenue has elegant rose windows that shine forth with a green glow at night.

In 2009, the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America took ownership of the church building and locked out the congregation.

In 2012, the synod sold the property to the Temple of Restoration for $5.8 million, Finance Department records show.

* Did you know that the landmarked tavern at 148 Hoyt St. was a speakeasy during Prohibition?

We found out this fascinating fact in “The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn,” the indispensable book edited by Kenneth Jackson and John Manbeck.

The bar’s current name is the Brooklyn Inn. It’s on the corner of Bergen Street.

According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 1973 designation report about the Boerum Hill Historic District, 148 Hoyt St. was built in 1851. But its distinctive look was the result of Queen Anne-style exterior renovations that were done in the 1880s.  

* The house where actors Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger lived, 126 Hoyt St., is a beauty. The house, which is on the corner of Dean Street, is painted grayish-green and has a garage.  

Williams — or more precisely, the trust through which she owned 126 Hoyt St. — sold it for $8.8 million in 2014, Finance Department records indicate.

Williams later bought a house in Victorian Flatbush.

* The late Helen Buckler’s Italianate 1850s house is at 238 Dean St.  

In the 1960s, Buckler launched a campaign to encourage middle-class brownstoners, as they called themselves, to buy and renovate 19th-century Boerum Hill houses that were threatened with demolition. She also came up with the name “Boerum Hill” for the neighborhood, which at that time was called North Gowanus.

Her house is located within the Boerum Hill Historic District.    

* There’s an eye-catching row of pastel-hued wood houses from 26 to 36 Bergen St., near the corner of Court Street.

 

 

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