Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Colonnade Row in Brooklyn Heights

Row of Greek Revival town houses with a white continuous colonnade row supporting a continuous portico
Colonnade Row
Greek Revival townhouse with white portico supported by columns
Greek Revival Home
Wooden figure of a man blowing a horn over the front door of a house
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Address: 43-49 Willow Place 

The houses pictured above, built in 1846, represent “the last surviving colonnade row on Brooklyn Heights”. The houses were designed in the Greek-Revival style. Colonnade rows were popular during the height of the style’s popularity in the 1830s-1840s. The colonnade row lends a lot of grandeur to homes with otherwise little architectural embellishment. The houses are unified with a continuous grand scale portico with square wooden columns supporting deep entablature. The city used to have many colonnade rows. Brownstoner lists La Grange Terrace across from Cooper Union in Manhattan as the best known remaining colonnade row. However, remnants of the design feature can be found in other, more modest places as well. In Williamsburg near the BQE is a singular home (pictured above) that was once part of Colonnade row.

Town house with columns and portico in need of repair and fresh paint with overgrown shrubs in front
Decrepit Greek Revival Home
Greek Revival townhouse covered in aluminum siding with tall white columns supporting a portico
Colonnade House in Williamsburg
My favorite of the remaining houses isn’t one among the row. It’s the one across the street. Currently in ill repair, the single remaining Greek-Revival house on the north side of Willow Place looks like an anachronism being swallowed by a modern building. The weird juxtaposition and decrepit façade makes the historic home look like a place lost in time. 

  1. Lancaster, Clay & Gillon, Edmund V. Old Brooklyn Heights: New York's First Suburb. Charles E. Tuttle Company Publishers, Rutland Vermont 1980
  2. White, Norval, Willensky, Elliot, and Leadon, Fran AIA Guide to New York. Oxford University Press, 2010
  3. Spellen, Suzanne "Building of the Day: 43-49 Willow Street" Brownstoner 10 September, 2012

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

No. 1 Front Street - Grimaldi's

No. 1 Front Street - Grimaldi's
Location: No. 1 Front Street
Neighborhood: Fulton Ferry District - Dumbo

Built in 1869, the building that now houses Grimaldi’s was once home to the Long Island Safe Depost Company. Architect William A. Mundell designed the Venetian-palazzo styled structure at age twenty-four. Mundell was also known for designing the Williamsburg and Park Slope armories. According to the AIA Guide to New York City the “monumental bank overshadowed its older neighbors”. The cast iron design of the building is reminiscent of the structures more commonly seen in SoHo and Tribecca. Moreover, the material of choice for the building represented a departure from the Fulton Ferry neighborhood’s vernacular architecture. Both the façade and interior details were constructed with iron, in part, to insure that depositor’s valuables were safe from fire. 
No. 1 Front Street - South Elevation
No. 1 Front Street Entrance and Window Details
The building is on the site where Abraham Remsen’s house and dry goods store once stood. The store replaced an old stone farmhouse owned by the Rapalje family. It is also near where the Fulton Ferry Landing once existed. The building was sited at 1 Front Street because, prior to completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, the area around the ferry landing was a commercial hub. Once the bridge was completed in 1883, commercial activity in the area declined and as a result the Long Island Safe Deposit Company moved to the corner of Clinton and Fulton Streets. After the safe deposit company moved the building was used as a warehouse. More recently, it has been utilized by commercial tenants including the famous pizza shop that now resides there.

  1. White, Norval, Willensky, Elliot, and Leadon, Fran AIA Guide to New York. Oxford University Press, 2010
  2. "Fulton Ferry Historic District Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission 1977
  3. Spellen, Suzanne "Building of the Day 1 Front Street" Brownstoner 7 December, 2010