Come see the Cobble Hill Historic District
Eye On Real Estate
Old and new together.
In Cobble Hill, brownstones built before the Civil War can be found a block away from a site where a glassy skyscraper is planned.
The scenery’s really something.
We’ll tell you about some of the neighborhood’s prettiest spots — which include a row of former stables and a classy 19th-century housing complex for workers.
First we want to explain about the skyscraper site, in case you don’t know its back story.
Fortis Property Group is constructing the high-rise residential building on the site where historic Long Island College Hospital stood until its fiercely contested closing a couple years ago.
We say “historic” when we speak of LICH because it was.
The hospital was a mainstay of Brooklyn healthcare for a century and a half.
As in one. Hundred. Fifty. Years.
It was founded before the Civil War.
It was a teaching hospital and a place of innovation. For instance, LICH was the first hospital in America to use anesthesia. And stethoscopes.
Now Fortis is building its residential mega-project, River Park, on most of the LICH site. The skyscraper at 2 River Park will be 475 feet tall and have a vast expanse of glass on its facade.
BTW, a corner of the LICH site has been developed independently by Vega Management.
This firm’s condo project, which is at 78 Amity St., is called The Cobble Hill House. See related story.
Thomas Wolfe lived on Verandah Place
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission designated a big chunk of the neighborhood as the Cobble Hill Historic District in 1969, back when John Lindsay was New York City’s mayor.
One of the most picturesque places in this landmarked area is Verandah Place, which is a couple blocks from Fortis’ skyscraper site.
There’s a row of brick carriage houses and former stables on Verandah Place, which runs along the edge of Cobble Hill Park between Henry and Clinton streets.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report says they were built in the 1840s and 1850s. Some of them have especially wide second-story windows that made it easy to toss hay into the buildings’ haylofts.
“An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn,” Francis Morrone’s indispensable book, says novelist Thomas Wolfe lived at 40 Verandah Place in 1930 and 1931.
At that time, Cobble Hill Park wasn’t built. Wolfe’s apartment was grim. Morrone cites a description of it in Wolfe’s novel “You Can’t Go Home Again” that said it seemed “more like a dungeon than a room that a man would voluntarily elect to live in.”
James Bond reportedly owns a brownstone
Elsewhere in the neighborhood there’s a brownstone that James Bond — aka actor Daniel Craig — and “The Favourite” co-star Rachel Weisz bought for $6.75 million, the New York Post reported in January.
As a matter of decorum we haven’t published the address of the house that the married celebs reportedly bought, so we won’t explain how to find it.
Instead, we’ll tell you about several of the prettiest spots on the side of Court Street that’s included in the Cobble Hill Historic District.
The eye-catching commercial corridor is made up mostly of brownstones and brick rowhouses with storefronts and upper-floor apartments plus a smattering of handsome commercial buildings.
There’s a glam building that looks like a Renaissance-style Florentine palazzo at 130 Court St. on the corner of Atlantic Avenue. The palazzo originally was a bank called the South Brooklyn Savings Institution — its name is displayed on the bas-relief sculpture over the front door.
Architecture firm McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin designed the bank, which was built in 1922, the designation report about the historic district says.
The august building currently houses a Trader Joe’s supermarket.
Greek Revival houses galore
The late Greek Revival-style brick house on the corner of Amity Street, 160 Court St., was built in 1848, the designation report notes.
Rag & Bone, which is an upscale clothing shop, is the retail tenant.
There’s a row of eight Greek Revival brick houses located on the corner of Warren and Court streets.
According to the designation report, the houses were built between 1845 and 1847. The final house in the row, which uses the address 210 Court St., has an eye-pleasing silhouette because it’s topped by two chimneys with a wall between them.
The storefront at 210 Court St. is vacant. Cafe Pedlar was the most recent tenant.
A four-story Queen Anne-style house with a gabled roof and bay windows stands at 248 Court St. on the corner of Kane Street. It was built in 1886, the designation report says.
The ground-floor tenant is farm-to-table restaurant Watty & Meg.
Tidy tenements on Hicks Street
On the other side of the historic district, you’ll see beautiful housing for workers that philanthropist Alfred Tredway White constructed.
He built several tidy tenement complexes in Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights.
The one we photographed on our most recent stroll is called Cobble Hill Towers. It’s located at 431 Hicks St., and extends the length of the block between Baltic and Warren streets.
Architecture firm William Field & Son designed the six-story brick apartment buildings, which were constructed between 1878 and 1879.
Instead of doing the usual thing with 19th-century tenements, which would have been to construct outhouses, White had a toilet installed in every apartment, the late Christopher Gray wrote in his New York Times column “Streetscapes” in 2008.
The most offbeat detail Gray included in his column concerns the buildings’ garbage chutes.
Tenants were instructed to burn refuse in their stoves before sending it down the chutes. The one exception was watermelon rinds, which were “unburnable and had to be put out separately,” Gray wrote.
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