Brooklyn Boro

Take a stroll to Queens from Downtown Brooklyn, part two

Eye on Real Estate: You'll see Pratt Institute sculptures and Bed-Stuy mansions

October 31, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Welcome to Pratt Institute, whose main gate is on Willoughby Avenue in Clinton Hill. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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It starts with a Shake Shack and ends with a cemetery.

How can you resist?

If you want to walk to Queens from Downtown Brooklyn, Willoughby’s a fine way to go.

For part of your stroll, you’ll notice this photogenic thoroughfare is called Willoughby Street. On the far side of Fort Greene Park, it becomes Willoughby Avenue.

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The street is lined with eye-catching new apartment towers and landmarked houses. It slices through Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick. It ends a couple blocks into Ridgewood, Queens, at Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery.

We’ve split our story of our walk into three parts so we can show you as many photos as possible. This is Part Two.

Do you know the way to Ryerson Walk?

There are landmarked houses galore and stunning churches on Willoughby Avenue in Clinton Hill. But the best eye candy of all is at Pratt Institute, which we’ll show you first.

The art, architecture and design college’s campus begins at the intersection of Willoughby Avenue and Hall Street and extends for several blocks. Its main entrance is at 200 Willoughby Ave.

The grounds of the 25-acre campus are open to the public. There’s wonderful architecture — and a stunning set of outdoor sculptures.

On Ryerson Walk, you’ll see the historic Main Building, which is an individual city landmark.

The Main Building and its two wings were constructed in three stages in the 1880s and mid-1920s, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 1981 designation report about it says. Its three parts have different architectural styles.

Architecture firm Lamb & Rich designed the Romanesque Revival-style Main Building. Architect William B. Tubby designed the Renaissance Revival-style wing known as South Hall. John Mead Howells designed the other wing, namely the neo-Romanesque-style Memorial Hall.


Pratt Institute’s outdoor sculptures

A collection of more than 60 artworks that’s on display on the campus is called the Pratt Institute Sculpture Park. It includes pieces that famous and emerging artists have loaned to the school plus some commissioned works.

When you’ve finished your stroll inside Pratt Institute’s gates and return to Willoughby Avenue, at the corner of Emerson Place you’ll see the landmarked Pratt Institute Faculty Rowhouses.

They were constructed in 1907.

Architect Hobart A. Walker designed the Colonial Revival-style brick homes. Alternating townhouses have either Dutch Colonial-style stepped gable roofs or details that suggest Elizabethan half-timber homes.

The college recently restored the rowhouses and turned them into student housing.

Brooklyn’s own Charles Pratt founded the institute in 1887. The 19th-century industrialist and philanthropist sold his oil refineries to John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil and became an important figure at that company.

Pratt, who lived in Clinton Hill, created the institute as a technical-training school for workers. Students in the early days prepared for careers as architects, engineers, dressmakers and furniture makers, the institute’s website says.


A lovely landmarked church

Now double back with us to Fort Greene.

One of the most eye-catching properties in the neighborhood is the landmarked French Speaking Baptist Church. It’s red brick and Romanesque Revival in style, with a distinctive tower situated on its Willoughby and Clermont avenues corner.

It was the Simpson Methodist Episcopal Church at the time of its construction in 1869, a Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report about the Fort Greene Historic District says. Architecture firm Mundell & Teckritz designed the church.

As you keep strolling, you’ll see lots of lovely rowhouses. The ones on the corner of Willoughby and Vanderbilt avenues, which are semi-shrouded by shrubs and lovely trees, are especially charming.

In a moment, you’re in the Clinton Hill Historic District.


A home for Pratt’s president

One of our favorite sights in this landmarked area is Caroline Ladd Pratt House at 229 Clinton Ave., just off the corner of Willoughby Avenue. It serves as a residence for Pratt Institute’s president.

We learned the following details from the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Clinton Hill Historic District designation report: Charles Pratt built houses on Clinton Avenue as wedding gifts for his sons.

One of them was 229 Clinton Ave., which was a present for Frederic B. Pratt.

Manhattan architecture firm Babb, Cook & Willard designed the neo-Italian Renaissance palazzo-style mansion in 1895.

It’s made of gray brick and white granite and marble trim and has a magnificent, tree-shaded lawn. At the front entrance, there’s a two-story-high stoa, which is a promenade with columns and a roof.

Another especially eye-pleasing Clinton Hill Historic District spot is the intersection of Willoughby and Washington avenues, where there are fab historic houses all over the place.

On one side of Willoughby Avenue, there’s a pair of Romanesque Revival-style houses at 229-231 Washington Ave., which J.G. Glover designed in 1892 for brothers John and Henry von Glahn. On the other side, there’s a row of five neo-Grec brownstones at 235-243 Washington Ave. that W.H. Gaylor designed in 1879. The corner house in this row has a mansard roof.


Apartments planned for St. Mary’s property

As you continue walking, you’ll arrive at Pratt Institute.

After that, at the edge of Clinton Hill, you’ll see a big property on the corner of Willoughby and Classon avenues where tall grasses wave in the breeze. Stunning landmarked St. Mary’s Episcopal Church is the most important building on the site. Its address is 230 Classon Ave.

Richard Tylden Auchmuty designed the Gothic Revival-style church in 1858, a Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report about the property says. It’s made of brownstone quarried in Belleville, New Jersey, near Newark, and has a soaring spire.   

In 2016, the Real Deal and DNAinfo reported that St. Mary’s plans to demolish a parish house on the property and build a 142-unit apartment building in its place. It will also demolish a rectory to make the church building more visible to folks out on the street.

We looked at Finance Department records and saw that an entity called 230 Classon Development LLC signed a 99-year lease with St. Mary’s for the portion of the property where the construction is planned. The LLC’s authorized signatory on the lease is Travis Stabler.

Stabler is the founder of Rivington Company, which is a development and property-management firm.


A gas station/development site

As Willoughby Avenue continues into Bed-Stuy, auto-body shops and industrial buildings dot the streetscape.

The owner of a Shell gas station at 895 Bedford Ave. on the corner of Willoughby Avenue is seeking zoning changes in order to develop the property. A city Environmental Assessment Statement filed in August says the proposed project would be a seven-story, 36-unit apartment building with ground-floor retail space.

In 2014, Bill Wolf Petroleum Corp. transferred ownership of 895 Bedford Ave. to an LLC, Finance Department records show.


Jacob Dangler’s mansion

On Willoughby Avenue blocks further into Bed-Stuy, there are beautiful brownstones and stately old-fashioned apartment houses.

One of the most memorable properties is Jacob Dangler’s mansion, which is  441 Willoughby Ave. on the corner of Nostrand Avenue. It’s made of orange-hued brick with stone trim and has a turret. It looks kinda like a fantasy castle.

Dangler, a prosperous immigrant entrepreneur, built the French Gothic Revival-style mansion around 1902, architectural history expert Suzanne Spellen wrote in a two-part story.

Finance Department records identify the current owner as the United Grand Chapter Order of Eastern Star, State of New York Inc.

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