15 December 2008

Degraw Delight

I've commented before on the lovely job the new owners of the building at the northeast corner of Degraw and Henry are doing with a former Cobble Hill eyesore. Their work continues to exceed all expectations, proceeding at a glacial pace, but getting it right. The most recent addition was that quasi-Grecian green portico up front. The brick work, the railings, the windows, it's all such fine work, with great attention to detail. The Rankins or Luquers of Pierrponts could travel forward in time from the 19th century, move in and feel right at home.


Vince M said...

I agree with you one hundred percent, Brooks. This house, with it's fake white brick facade was an eyesore for years in the old neighborhood. My wife and I were walking past it a few weeks ago when we were in town and couldn't believe how beautiful it looked. In fact we read about it online and couldn't wait to see it in person.

I'm curious about your opinion of another property that was developed a few years ago on Second Place between Clinton & Henry Streets. I used to live across the street at Twenty-Four Second Place, and I was appalled at the look of the structure. Especially since it was lined by a row of matching houses on it's left, and a beautifully cohesive and harmonious mix of brownstone structures to the right.
Does it look like a medical clinic, or an office building to you? Because it does to me.

I agree with you that the area should be claimed an Historic district, but at the same time I'm well-aware of the increased costs for preserving history that will be imposed on the area's private homeowners, should it come to pass. But I do believe that multiple-dwelling, partnership controlled properties like this one on Second Place should pay a heavier price for changing the face of the neighborhood in an effort to pack more people and vehicles into an already taxed area.

I'm still amzed at how most people still take care of their homes in this wonderful little area...
Long live Red Hook! (I mean Carroll Gardens!}

Anonymous said...

Do I see old-fashioned white street signs on the building corner there?

Anonymous said...

Great job! And I like how it has those old street name signs embedded in the corner.

Anonymous said...

About Degraw Delight.
I too was admiring the building recently and wondered if the project were a restoration to original building design, or new work done in an old style that had no bearing on what the building originally looked like.

a joy to behold in either case, but I did wonder if this treat was also teaching me something about what the area once looked like.

thanks for any info.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in Carroll Gardens for 25 years, and want to chime in... this is a lovely and elegant renovation. Owners deserve praise.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Yes, Dan, those are old-fashioned white street signs on the side. They were recovered when the former white brick siding was removed. And Carolina, I have a picture of the building from 1927. The restoration is very close to what it looked like back then, but grander. The dormer windows, for instance, are new.

Anonymous said...

Could we ask you to post a 'before' photo for comparison?

And thank you for another thoughtful piece from a consistently wonderful blog.

All the best,

Vince M said...

Will you address my query on the Secondd Place project? I'd love to know your opinion.

Anonymous said...

Brooks, since this work was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, are you willing to give a tip of the hat to the "criminally negligent" LPC? All you ever seem to do is bitch and moan about them, and it might be time to say something nice.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I thought I did say something nice, Mikey. The whole post was nice. And, in case you didn't notice, this is a sort of watchdog site, and so the basic purpose is to "bitch and moan" as you put it. Is there any point to saying things are good, when they're bad? Is the world a better place because a paste a stupid smile on my face as the wrecking ball knocks down another 100-year-old church? Do you also gripe about the many articles lately published in the major dailies "bitching and moaning" about the LPC? It's not just me that's critical of the commission; the general impression is that they're doing a poor job. Or are you one of those guys who complain that the newspapers only print "negative stories"?

Unknown said...


You said something about what a good job LPC did in guiding and approving an excellent restoration proposal for this house and seeing it through to completion? Funny, I didn't see that. Are we reading two different postings here?

I've never pulled any punches in criticizing LPC, but you have to keep things in perspective. Things are bad out there, you say. So, how bad are they? If the worst thing LPC did in the last five years was to let the Green Church go, then they're doing a pretty good job. Talk to preservationists or other people who actually *know* something about these issues, LPC defenders or not--and I routinely talk to people in both camps--and they'll tell you that serpentine was always a problematic stone, that the church was dissolving before our eyes, and that there really was no feasible intervention available that could have saved the physical fabric of that church. Sometimes, there's just nothing you can do to save an old building, and the Green Church was an example of that. I don't like it any more than you do, but that's life.

LPC writes 10,000 permits a year for individual landmarks and buildings in historic districts. I'm betting you couldn't find more than a handful of examples where they really, genuinely screwed up in that role. That side of their work got left completely out of the Times series. So no, I'm not opposed to newspapers being tough and critical. I am opposed to them (and bloggers who write on these issues) losing all perspective because they're not informed enough to understand and report the whole story.

And when people throw around terms like "criminally negligent" without knowing what they're talking about, that's just irresponsible.

I'll also add that preservationists in 99% of cities across this country would *kill* to have anything half as good as New York's LPC. Believe me--I'm a preservationist. And I do a preservationist's work everyday, rather than just sitting on the sidelines and lobbing tomatoes. Anyone can do that.