Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhouse opens Sept. 27 in home with storied past

September 20, 2019 Mary Frost
The 2019 Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhouse will take place in the historic wood-framed home at 13 Pineapple St. in Brooklyn Heights. Photo courtesy of Douglas Lorber

The 2019 Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhouse will open to the public on Sept. 27 in a two-century-old house at 13 Pineapple St.

The showhouse, brainchild of the Brooklyn Heights Association, will bring 15 Brooklyn-connected designers to the graceful 1830s-era home, situated on a tree-lined street near the Promenade.

The designers were hand-picked by BHA organizers, and created their own perfect parlor, kitchen, dining room, bedrooms (seven of them), garden and other spaces in the wood-framed building.

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Erika Belsey Worth and Ellen Hamilton are co-chairpersons of the showhouse, and Ellie Cullman is the event’s honorary design chairperson.

“What’s so compelling about our Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhouse is that the challenge to the designers aligns with the mission of the BHA: love and embrace the old while making it fresh, alive and livable. It’s so exciting to see how designers respond to the strong bones of a historic house,” Worth told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

BHA’s first showhouse in 2017 was a brownstone built in the 1860s, she said.

“This year we are thrilled to be in a wood-frame house, one of the earliest homes in the Heights. The results are respectful to the house but surprisingly unpredictable!” Worth added.

The showhouse concept replaced BHA’s long-standing annual house tour fundraiser, which ended in 2016 due to the need to maintain home-owner security in a time of social media and ubiquitous cell phones.


Compelling history

The 50-foot-wide, Federal-era house is a backyard neighbor to 70 Willow St., which was once occupied by Truman Capote. He admired 13 Pineapple in his book “A House on the Heights.”

Capote wrote that 13 Pineapple was built in 1790, and was once the home of a sea captain. While that exact date can’t be confirmed, the house first appeared in written records in 1830. During Capote’s day in the ’50s and ’60s, it was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Philip Broughton.

“Since the three-story frame house at 13 Pineapple St. looks like no other home in Brooklyn Heights, some speculate it might have been moved there from a previous location,” former Eagle columnist David Weiss wrote about the silver-gray residence in 2010.

According to an Eagle clipping from 1900, John and Mary Coleman lived at 13 Pineapple at the turn of that century. This confirmed backed up by the 1903 City Record, which listed Coleman as a “clerk.”

Today, the house is owned by Henry and Karoly Gutman, who recently moved to another residence, the Pierhouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The event’s opening night party will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26, and the showhouse will be open to the public from Friday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. The hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The showhouse is closed on Monday and Tuesday. Admission is $40 to the general public and $35 to BHA members. Group tours can be arranged.

Proceeds support BHA, the neighborhood group that pioneered the idea of historic districts in NYC. The organization was also instrumental in the building of the iconic Brooklyn Heights Promenade; helped to save the waterfront for what is now Brooklyn Bridge Park; and is working on alternatives for the reconstruction of the BQE and other preservation projects.

See the list of participating designers and more details at thebha.org, along with Brooklyn Designer Showhouse..


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2 Comments

  1. Andrew Porter

    Gutman is a local mover-and-shaker. He was honored last November by Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which described him as “…deeply involved in the effort to build Brooklyn Bridge Park since his appointment to the Board of the original Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation in 1998. He is a past Board member of Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and currently serves on the Board of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. After a 40-year career as a partner at Simpson Thacher… [he] is currently the Chairman of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.”

    Gutman’s decision to sell his house and move to PierHouse was controversial at the time, and was covered by various local media, including the Eagle.

  2. Andrew Porter

    Gutman is a local mover-and-shaker. He was honored last November by Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which described him as “…deeply involved in the effort to build Brooklyn Bridge Park since his appointment to the Board of the original Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation in 1998. He is a past Board member of Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and currently serves on the Board of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. After a 40-year career as a partner at Simpson Thacher… [he] is currently the Chairman of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.”

    Gutman’s decision to sell his house and move to PierHouse was controversial at the time, and was covered by various local media, including the Eagle.