Un-Real Estate in Brooklyn

Recently I’ve been engaging in the quintessential New York weekend activity - ogling real estate that I'll never be able to afford. I’d like to share a few of the local finds in Brooklyn that were architecturally interesting. Anyone got a few million to spare?

Fiske Terrace 

This is one of the few planned neighborhoods that exist in Brooklyn today. It is a Landmarked district that encompasses approximately 250 unique, custom homes over many acres. It is a tree lined neighborhood, filled with detached Victorian era homes on over sized lots. 

My family and I had just finished lunch on the busy commercial strip Ocean Avenue, and decided to make a quick jaunt through a pair of brick pillars, indicating the transition between neighborhoods. Tall leafy trees and landscaped lawns, along with homes set back from the property line both muffles the urban cacophony and you find yourself surrounded in a green oasis. It definitely feels like you've been transported into the middle of suburbia USA.

This neighborhood is complete with the Avenue H station house, which is on the Q Line. This is a unique, shingled roof, wood framed cottage train station. It is also nearly the last of its kind. While it was not originally constructed to be a train station, it has held up well after being converted from its previous purpose as the office of T.B. Ackerman Co., the developer that bought the land and constructed the homes. None of these homes are alike. 

There are no apartment buildings, just row after row of single family, large Victorian or Queen Anne revival homes. Asking price for a one family home starts in the $2 million range.

Gingerbread House 

Tucked away on a quiet side street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is the Gingerbread House. Its appearance belies its location. While Bay Ridge is a working class, low density neighborhood better known for the movie “Saturday Night Fever,” the Gingerbread House is certainly not from these parts. It looks more like a home you stumble upon in a children’s fairy tale, you know, when you're lost in the woods and are being chased by a witch.

This Arts & Crafts style house was built in 1916 by the shipping merchant, Howard E. Jones, for his family. The building was designed by architect James Sarsfield Kennedy. The most impressive feature to me aside from the wood detailing and hand carved ornamentation is the lot size. This one home sits on a lot that's almost 10 brownstones across. In a borough that is starved for space, that is a great selling point. It is also in prime Bay Ridge territory - only a block away from the waterfront. Asking price is over $10 million. 

John C Kelley Mansion

If you thought Fiske Terrace and the Gingerbread House was atypical of Brooklyn, this next residence isn't. Located in Bed-Stuy, the Kelley Mansion at 247 Hancock St. was designed by architect Montrose Morris in 1887. Morris is well known in this part of Brooklyn - he also designed several other notable large multi-family residential projects in nearby neighborhoods, some of which now are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Morris himself is a product of Brooklyn, which could have been why his work is clustered around Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights. Common elements across Morris' works are rich, ornate stonework, crenulated roofs and use of brownstone. His work consisted of Queen Anne and Romanesque revival styles, and can also be found in the tonier parts of the Upper West Side as well. This is on the market for $6 million.

The Renaissance and the Imperial 

Developer Louis F. Seitz commissioned Morris to design an apartment house on Nostrand Avenue. The new building pleased Seitz so much that he commissioned Morris to design two additional apartment houses, the Renaissance and the Imperial. These apartment buildings were among the most prestigious residences in Brooklyn.

What are some other notable buildings in your neighborhood that you’ve been eyeing?  


Will Wong, Associate