Bushwick

See 10 iconic Bushwick landmarks

Eye on Real Estate: Hallelujah! Renovated St. Barbara’s looks divine

April 17, 2019 Lore Croghan
The Brooklyn Public Library’s DeKalb Branch. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

It rises like a mirage on Central Avenue, a fantasy version of American Southwest architecture in Spanish Colonial times.

Its 175-foot bell towers are pale white like confectioner’s sugar. So are the terra-cotta sculptures of Jesus and winged angels above the front door. The rest of the building is golden brick that catches the afternoon sunlight.

This is St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church, Bushwick’s most eye-popping city landmark.

Scaffolding obscured the facade for years. Now the towers’ exteriors have been renovated. They look so beautiful.

Here’s a close look at St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church’s twin bell towers and terra-cotta sculptures. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Here’s a close look at St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church’s twin bell towers and terra-cotta sculptures. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Helmle & Huberty, a distinguished Brooklyn architecture firm of yesteryear, designed the century-old church, whose address is 138 Bleecker St.

Landmark designation was proposed in 1980, then postponed and postponed and postponed. The city Landmarks Preservation Commission revisited the issue a couple years ago when it made a herculean effort to clear a backlog of 95 designation proposals that had sat on its calendar, some for a half-century.

The commission voted to designate St. Barbara’s as an individual landmark in December 2016.

It’s worth a visit to Bushwick just to see this Spanish Colonial Revival-style church.

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But in fact there are numerous city landmarks in this funky hipster-and-Hispanic neighborhood if you know where to look for them — enough to make a spring stroll worth your while.

I’ve made this checklist for you to pull up on your phone when you’re taking your walk.

Doering-Bohack House

The wood-frame home on the corner of Greene Avenue and Goodwin Place is the landmarked Doering-Bohack House. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The wood-frame home on the corner of Greene Avenue and Goodwin Place is the landmarked Doering-Bohack House. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Nothing else in Bushwick looks like this building. The stand-alone 1880s wood frame mansion at 1090 Greene Ave. reminds me of a farmhouse — if the farmer was rich and had a taste for neo-Grec and Queen Anne-style architecture.

Prominent Brooklyn architect Theobald Engelhardt designed Doering-Bohack House. One of the people who lived there over the years was Henry Bohack, who owned a chain of grocery stores that was named after him.

The buttery-yellow clapboard house on the corner of Greene Avenue and Goodwin Place was renovated a couple years ago. It looks terrific. Daffodils were blooming in the yard the day I strolled over to see it.

Catherina Lipsius House

Catherina Lipsius House is a landmarked brewer’s mansion on Bushwick Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Catherina Lipsius House is a landmarked brewer’s mansion on Bushwick Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

This is a brewer’s mansion to be reckoned with.

The red-brick house at 670 Bushwick Ave. has a round turret with a pointy roof on one corner of it. On a dark and stormy night, it would be a suitable setting for a spooky Halloween film.

Catherina Lipsius, who owned a brewery with her family, commissioned the American Round-Arched style house in the late 1880s. Architect Theobald Engelhardt designed this home, too.

The Brooklyn Public Library’s DeKalb Branch

Here’s the Brooklyn Public Library’s DeKalb Branch. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Here’s the Brooklyn Public Library’s DeKalb Branch. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The flowering trees on the lawn are stunning this time of year. And what a beautiful building.

The borough of Brooklyn will forever be thankful for funding that philanthropist Andrew Carnegie provided for 20 libraries at the very beginning of the 20th century.

If you know your public buildings, you recognize Carnegie libraries the moment you see them. They are stand-alone buildings made of brick and limestone on corner lots. Their architectural style is Classical Revival.

The DeKalb Branch at 790 Bushwick Ave. is one of the Carnegie libraries. A 2004 designation report LPC wrote about this branch says William Tubby was the architect. This library was built in 1905.

The Reformed Church of South Bushwick

This is the historic Reformed Church of South Bushwick. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
This is the historic Reformed Church of South Bushwick. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

This Greek Revival-style wood frame church at 855 Bushwick Ave. was built in the early 1850s, but its steeple harkens back to 17th-century London.

I’m not knowledgeable enough about ecclesiastical architecture to know things like this. But the LPC’s designation report about the Reformed Church of South Bushwick, which was written in 1968, says steeples with octagonal belfries and octagonal spires populated London’s skyline after the Great Fire of 1666.

Christopher Wren designed churches with these signature steeples to replace houses of worship that the conflagration destroyed.

Peter P. and Rosa M. Huberty House

The second house from the right is landmarked Peter P. and Rosa M. Huberty House on Bushwick Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The second house from the right is landmarked Peter P. and Rosa M. Huberty House on Bushwick Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

What a wonderful son.

Ulrich Huberty, an architect who did great things in Brooklyn before he died tragically at age 33, designed the house at 1019 Bushwick Ave. for his parents.

It’s Colonial Revival in style, and has smart touches like a widow’s walk. It was built in 1900, an auspicious year at the dawn of a new century.

LPC’s 2017 designation report about the handsome home says typhoid fever killed Huberty. He was so young.

Huberty was the co-founder of Helmle & Huberty, the architecture firm that designed St. Barbara’s.

Ridgewood Masonic Temple

The corner building is the Ridgewood Masonic Temple, which has been turned into an apartment house. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The corner building is the Ridgewood Masonic Temple, which has been turned into an apartment house. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

This Masons’ lodge has been converted to an apartment building — and it looks pretty great.

Architecture firm Koch & Wagner designed the Ridgewood Masonic Temple at 1054 Bushwick Ave.

It was built in 1919 and 1920. The low-rise building, which is made of buff-colored brick and rusticated stone, was designated as a city landmark in 2014.

Look at those multistory arched windows above the front entrance. So dignified and restrained. Don’t you love Bushwick Avenue?

Engine Company 252

The building at left is landmarked Engine Company 252 on Central Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The building at left is landmarked Engine Company 252 on Central Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Some of Brooklyn’s most eye-catching buildings are its old-fashioned firehouses. The one at 617 Central Ave. is really something.

Engine Company 252, which was built in 1896 and 1897, is a Flemish Revival-style design. It is made of brick, red sandstone and terra-cotta.

The architects were the Parfitt Brothers, who were a powerhouse Brooklyn firm in that era.

LPC’s 1995 designation report says it is “one of the finest firehouses ever erected in Brooklyn.”

The 83rd Precinct Police Station and Stable

The 83rd Precinct Police Station and Stable is located on Wilson Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The 83rd Precinct Police Station and Stable is located on Wilson Avenue. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

William Tubby, the DeKalb Branch’s architect, designed a fabulous Romanesque Revival-style police station at 179 Wilson Ave. that was built in 1894 and 1895.

The 83rd Precinct Police Station and Stable has a corner tower and looks like a fantasy castle.

LPC’s 1977 designation report told me something I did not know about Bushwick, which was heavily populated by German immigrants at the end of the 19th century. It’s that Wilson Avenue was originally called Hamburg Avenue, which of course is the name of a city in Germany.

The avenue was rechristened in honor of President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, after World War I ended, the report said.

Public School 86

Public School 86 is an Irving Avenue landmark. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Public School 86 is an Irving Avenue landmark. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

When Brooklyn was an independent city, Irish immigrant James Naughton was its Board of Education’s Superintendent of Buildings. This meant he was the architect who designed Brooklyn’s public schools.

One of his Bushwick designs is a designated city landmark — Public School 86 at 220 Irving Ave.

The brick and stone schoolhouse was constructed in 1892 and 1893. Its architectural style is Romanesque Revival. It is laid out in the shape of the letter “I,” the 1991 designation report about it says.

Follow Brooklyn Eagle reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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