Valentine’s Way, preservationists’ labor of love, comes onto the market in Brooklyn Heights
Historic, 4-townhouse assemblage with secluded park, restored over decades
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A historic collection of four adjacent townhouses, with its own private park, has quietly gone on sale for $25 million in Brooklyn Heights.
Called Valentine’s Way, the brownstones at 60, 62, 64 and 66 Clark St., between Henry and Hicks streets, are subject to a conservation easement established by the dedicated preservationists who have spent four decades meticulously restoring them. The conservation easement assures that the buildings’ exteriors, front gardens and ironwork, which have been judged to be of cultural, architectural and historical significance, will be maintained in perpetuity.
According to the New York Landmarks Conservancy, 60, 62, 64 and 66 Clark St. were built in approximately 1836, 1853, 1857 and 1849 respectively as single-family rowhouses. In the 1920’s they were combined into a single ownership as individual multiple dwellings retaining their separate entrances.
When the owners acquired the rowhouses in 1979, the buildings and grounds — like other patches of Brooklyn Heights at that time — were in sorry shape.
“As dyed-in-the-wool preservationists, our plan was to save all the historic details rather than seek shortcuts,” the owners, who wish to remain unnamed, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday. “We stretched out our apartment-by-apartment approach seemingly forever as tenants, for whatever reason, elected to leave.”
Over the years, the 39 rental apartments have been restored with original details, functioning fireplaces, and numerous upgrades to the kitchens and bathrooms.
“Converting a bug-infested, broken-windowed slum into a collection of uniquely charming homes takes a while, it seems,” the owners said. “But it was our goal to make the busy Clark Street subway entrance to Brooklyn Heights as attractive as we were able.”
A secluded park
Out of sight, behind the restored brownstones, lies Valentine’s Park, which was created by combining all four gardens. The four contiguous backyards were previously an “overgrown, tin can-strewn site of Ailanthus trees, tires and other assorted rubbish,” the owners said. With the help of volunteers, they converted the yards into what they call a “mini-park” for the enjoyment of the rental tenants. The park is accessed through a private walkway next to 66 Clark St.
According to a brochure put out by Brown Harris Stevens Brooklyn, which is handling the sale, Valentine’s Park has the original bluestone walks, widened and connected, with multilevel plantings, sitting areas, a fountain and an irrigation system.
Valentine Everit, part of Brooklyn’s early history
While Valentine’s Way is a true labor of love, the brownstone community was actually named for the first owner of two of the houses, Valentine Everit.
Clay Lancaster, author of “Old Brooklyn Heights: New York’s First Suburb,” surmised that Valentine Everit first built what is now numbered 66 Clark St. and later, “wishing a larger, grander house in the latest style, built 64,” the preservationists said.
“And since Valentine Everit was the original owner of half of the four existing houses, we decided to call our company Valentine’s Way Co.!” they said.
The Everit lineage goes back to the founding of the village of Brooklyn, with the block-long Everit Street in Fulton Ferry still carrying the family name.
Thomas Everit Sr. established a slaughterhouse in 1720 around Everit Street (named after him) and Doughty Street. Where the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and private homes now stand, tan yards and butchers operated for generations.
Thomas Sr.’s son, Thomas Jr., was born in 1764. He also became a butcher and dealer in hides and wool, expanding the tan yard and opening a leather shop at 7 Furman St. He set up a leather firm in lower Manhattan in an area known as “The New York Swamp.” The Swamp — around today’s South Street Seaport — evolved into New York City’s leather district.
Thomas Jr. married Susannah Valentine, and their son Valentine Everit (one of eight children) was born on Oct. 10, 1800. In 1818, Valentine joined his father’s firm, Thomas Everit & Son. He eventually took it over, and opened a leather store at 32 Ferry Street in The Swamp, growing prosperous.
Valentine married Beulah Elma Kirby in 1838 at the Friends Meeting House, which was at that time located at the corner of Henry and Clark streets in Brooklyn Heights (before moving to its current home on Schermerhorn Street in 1857). (Some sources say the couple had eight children, but others put it at five.)
In 1849, Valentine built what is now called 66 Clark St., and eight years later, with his greater prosperity, 64 Clark St. There he lived with his family until 1874; Beulah lived until 1891.
Eighty-eight years later, preservationists fell in love with the series of brownstones, and spent the next four decades restoring them.
While Valentine’s Way is made up of prime rental properties, its owners say they are hoping to pass the torch to a preservation-minded buyer who prizes the unique four-townhouse assemblage as much as they do.
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