Take a South Slope stroll while the scenery’s still summery
Eye on Real Estate: The South Slope is full of old-fashioned architectural eye candy. See it while the leaves are still green.
The other day when it was 80 degrees outside, I went to South Slope to take photos. After five hours, I’d covered only a fraction of its beautiful, old-fashioned blocks. There was so much to see.
This neighborhood has one of the city’s oldest movie theaters, an armory that looks like a castle, dignified houses of worship, brownstones with barrel-shaped facades and fine wood-frame houses.
The place also will look fabulous when fall colors tint the street trees’ foliage. I’ll make a return visit.
Meet me at the movies
But now, while the scenery is still summery, let’s start by looking at the movie house, which is on a landmarked block at 188 Prospect Park West.
When it opened in August 1928, the Neo-Renaissance buff brick entertainment venue was called the Sanders Theatre. The 1,581-seat venue had a single screen, which was customary in the early days of film. From 1996 to 2016, it was the multi-screen Pavilion Theatre.
As you of course know, the operators of Williamsburg’s popular Nitehawk Cinema have renovated the old Prospect Park West movie house and reopened it as a seven-screen theatre.
The best thing about it is you can drink booze at your seat and there’s an extensive food menu. Servers bring your order before or during the movie and set it out on a little table so you don’t have to balance your snacks on your lap.
Nitehawk Prospect Park has an austere exterior. There’s none of the elaborate ornamentation you find on the Loew’s picture palaces of the late 1920s that still stand in various spots throughout the city.
What makes the former Sanders Theatre photogenic is a filigreed pattern of shadows that the metal balcony casts on the front of the building on sunny days. It’s one of the oldest buildings in New York that has continuously been used as a movie theatre, Nitehawk Cinema’s website says.
A circle that’s a square
Nitehawk Prospect Park is located next to a picturesque traffic circle with a monument in its center.
If you’re a very literal thinker, you’re not going to like this: Although what you see is a circle, it’s called Bartel-Pritchard Square.
The square is named after Emil Bartel and William Pritchard, two young soldiers from Brooklyn who died in World War I.
The apartment buildings on this circle have curved façades to follow the street’s contours. One of these, landmarked Renaissance Revival-style Bryna Court, is at 195 Prospect Park West. It was constructed in 1905. It’s currently a co-op building.
Another one of Nitehawk’s neighbors is iconic Prospect Park. But if I’d gone into the park for a stroll I would have stayed all day and not had any time to take pictures of historic houses.
A Beaux-Arts apartment house
South Slope’s grandest apartment houses can be found on Prospect Park West.
On the corner of 14th Street across from Nitehawk Cinema, you’ll find the Montauk at 186 Prospect Park West.
This limestone and brick Beaux-Arts building was constructed in 1901, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 1973 designation report about the Park Slope Historic District says. It’s currently a co-op building.
This armory looks like a castle
When you walk down the street to Eighth Avenue, you find the Fourteenth Regiment Armory, which is an individual city landmark. It looks like a castle. It was designed by architect William Mundell and constructed in the 1890s.
Current-day Brooklyn residents know this eye-popping edifice as the Park Slope Armory.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about it says the Fourteenth Regiment was known as the Brooklyn Chasseurs. The soldiers were nicknamed the “Red-legged Devils” because they wore red uniforms.
Today one of the armory’s tenants is a YMCA whose address is 361 15th St.
Fine sights on the avenues
Another Eighth Avenue sight can be found on the corner of 16th Street. It’s red-painted brick Memorial Baptist Church, which was constructed in 1891.
The church’s website says the congregation got its start in the early 1870s.
Yet another eye-catching Eighth Avenue corner is at the intersection of 13th Street. There’s a handsome building with a barrel-shaped window bay at 451 13th St. The property is located in the Park Slope Historic District.
The LPC’s designation report about the area says the houses starting with this one and extending from 1213 Eighth Ave. to 1205 Eighth Ave. were all built in 1900 by owner-architect William Musgrave Calder.
Besides being a prolific builder who constructed around 3,500 Brooklyn homes, Calder was a Republican politician. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1916, according to an article in the Brooklyn Eagle’s electronic archives, which can be accessed through the Brooklyn Public Library.
Calder served in the U.S. House of Representatives for a decade before his Senate term, his 1945 New York Times obituary says.
Nearby, on the corner of Sixth Avenue, there’s another residential building with a curved window bay. Its address is 331 13th St. It, too, has a row of barrel-vaulted rowhouses alongside it.
Another favorite spot is 528 Fourth Ave. on the corner of 14th Street. There, you’ll see a red-brick residential building with an eye-catching rectangular window bay over its front door.
Wonderful wooden houses
Wooden houses are a sweet surprise in a brownstone neighborhood. Some of them in the South Slope are painted pastel Easter egg colors.
There are attractive rows of them on the 14th Street blocks between Sixth and Seventh avenues and Fifth and Sixth avenues.
A row of wood houses starting at 272 14th St. is worth a look.
Close by, a cluster of wooden houses with mansard roofs stands at 244 13th St.
In some spots, the wood-frame houses are stand-alone buildings with big front porches — the very picture of old-fashioned, small-town tranquility — except there are apartment buildings sprouting up alongside them.
Such is the case with 278 14th St.
Some of the prettiest wood houses with porches can be found at 286 and 288 14th St.
I’m also a fan of the porch — and house — at 286 13th St.
Edenic front gardens
We should turn our attention to brick houses for a minute.
There’s a row of them on 13th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues that’s well worth a look.
A real-estate owner named Mary Wood built all 10 Neo-Grec houses around 1885, the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 2012 designation report about the Park Slope Historic District Extension says.
The houses run from 406 through 418 13th St. They have very deep front yards like you’d expect to see on landmarked Carroll Gardens blocks.
Verdant trees and shrubs partly shroud the South Slope houses from the view of passing drivers and pedestrians and make this block a green oasis.
Before you end your South Slope stroll, be sure to check out the 13th Street block between Eighth Avenue and Prospect Park West. It’s located within the original Park Slope Historic District.
On the even-numbered side of the street, you’ll find handsome limestone and brownstone rowhouses that were built in the late 1890s.
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Eye on Real Estate is veteran reporter Lore Croghan’s weekly column on Brooklyn’s built environment. Whether it’s old as Abraham Lincoln or so new it hasn’t topped out yet, if a building is eye-catching, Eye will show it to you.
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