If you live in New York City, you know that a common dream among your fellow residents is to someday own a Brownstone. Typically a townhouse and typically red or brown (though they come in many colors) they are the peak of city living. They provide a large, elegant space for families, including multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, and, usually, a yard. They also are smack-dab in the middle of the city’s action, never a long walk from a park, a subway, or a cool neighborhood. Brownstones are magical, not just because of their location and amenities. When you live in a Brownstone, you feel like you live in a part of history. Each row of Brownstones has their own story to tell, and we’ll be looking at some of my favorites today.
531 1st Street: Located in Central Slope, a stone’s throw from Prospect Park, this home is part a series built in the 1900’s by Louis Bonert and his architect, Frank W. Eisenla. The original house, 527 1st Street, was built in 1910. The other four, this house included, were built in 1915, all of which connect on the same block. The exterior of the home is limestone with a granite porch. The columns and shallow swell fronts above the first floor are reminiscent of British Regency architecture, while fusing perfectly with Federal Style features often found in US architecture. The house has four floors and a basement, a backyard space, and large, open rooms perfect for entertaining.
526 Macdonough Street: Located in Bed-Stuy, this Brownstone might seem familiar to those who have seen the movie 42, the biopic about Jackie Robinson. The reason for that is because Jackie Robinson actually lived in this home for a short period in 1947 when he got drafted to the Brooklyn Dodgers. The amber brick in contrast with the black awning make for an unforgettable sight. The interior has been split into three separate homes. However, it’s on the market again for any baseball fan looking to flip a piece of history.
36 Grace Court: Located in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, this Italian Style Brownstone was recently restored to such prestige that it won an award from the New York Landmark Conservancy. Close to the east river with great views of the Manhattan skyline, this neighborhood is rife with history and bold architecture. 36 Grace Court, itself, is a spectacle to behold with high ceilings, 14 rooms, and a roof-top terrace. It’s a unique build in an historic district, the combination of which makes a comfortable life nestled in a picturesque suburb.
70 Willow Street: Another Brownstone in Brooklyn Heights, 70 Willow Street was built with Greek architecture in mind in 1839. Once used as school run by the red cross, this home has an old-fashioned charm to it that has lasted for nearly two centuries. While larger than your typical Brownstone, this house does connect to a row of other townhomes, thus thrusting it into the category. The house is more commonly known to the locals as the Truman Capote house, due the famous author’s residency from 1955-1965. It’s also the house where he had lunch with Jackie Kennedy.
122 Congress Street: Located in Cobble Hill, this brownstone is part of a row of houses and was modeled after Italian and French style architecture of the 1850’s to remind the citizens of the neighborhood of its origins. Residents still hit the streets to celebrate, Bastille Day, but most of the time the neighborhood is a quiet place to relax and shop. Surrounded by greenery, the home is almost mystical in nature, almost like a sleepy cottage in a quiet village. The design might be from the past, but the interior has all the modern quirks you’d want in a home.
661 10th Street: Located in South Slope and built in 1910, this comfortable home doesn’t need anything flashy to make it special. Once a two-unit home, the inside has been gutted to make it a single-family house with a ton of space both indoor and out. The bathroom titling and the hardwood floors might be new, but this house has kept its charming wood crafted window frames and fireplace facades, giving it a natural, comfy feel. There’s both a roof-top patio and a large backyard for the family to enjoy. All of this just proves that simplicity can be breathtaking.
167 6th Avenue: Brownstone, located in Park Slope, was the setting of the film The Squid and the Whale, and Noah Baumbach film about growing up in Brooklyn in the 1980’s. The house is much older, though, haven been built in 1901. Sporting giant rooms and a decently sized backyard, this home is epitome of the Brooklyn Brownstone experience. Park Slope, one of the most coveted neighborhoods in New York is famous for its large number of Brownstones and boutique shops. The charm of 167 6th Avenue is that you own a piece of cinema history that perfectly blends in with its surroundings. All the homes in Park Slope look good enough for the Big Screen, but you and your family would have an Oscar nominated story to tell at dinner parties.
Whether the home once had a famous resident, was made from an unusual material, or just underwent some renovations in the past, the history of each, individual Brownstone is interesting and intricate. Even homes that seem to have no history at all have a story behind them. Over time the families that lived there built these communities, shaping them into what they are today. They made sure Brownstones stayed part of that history, which is why they are as popular as they are today. You can see Brownstones in other parts of the United States, but nothing compares to the ones found in Brooklyn. It’s a house style that’s uniquely NYC. Every New Yorker’s dream is to one day own a Brownstone. When that dream comes true for you, make sure to investigate the history of your house. You won’t regret it.