Friday, May 19, 2017

Sad Sight: Lovely Wood Clad Building That Housed Book Court At 163 Court Street Loses Its Beautiful Old Façade

161 and 163 Court Street when the buildings housed Book Court
(photo credit: google.com)
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Book Court, before it closed.
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On May 18, 2017
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First, the South Brooklyn community mourned the loss of BookCourt, a 35-year old Cobble Hill indie bookstore when owners, Henry Zook and Mary Gannett decided to retire.
Now, many in the neighborhood are saddened to see that 163 Court Street, the smaller of the two joint buildings that housed the bookstore is undergoing a major renovation that has stripped it of its original wood cladding and charming ornate wooden storefront.

After closing their business, Book and Gannett sold both 161 and 163 Court Street to Eastern Capital for an estimated $13.6 million. Permits were almost immediately filed with the NYC Department of Buildings and works has been progressing rapidly.

Esther, a local resident reached out to PMFA to say:
"I recently walked past 163 Court Street, the smaller of the two (former) Book Court buildings. The wood cladding and window surrounds have been removed, exposing the frame and brick nogging, and the historic storefront has been ripped out. Any idea what is happening there? Rare wood frame building, c.1840s. Very sad because I doubt any restorative work is planned."

A Permit for 'proposed façade and store front alteration' has been issued by the NYC Department of Buildings. A permit for a vertical and horizontal enlargement is pending. The architect on record is John Schimenty.
The larger building at #163 will also be enlarged.

It is important to note that neither of the two buildings is landmarked since only the opposite side of Court Street is within the footprints of the Cobble Hill Historic District.
One can only hope that this old building will not be totally remodeled, but one can't help but feel sad to see it in its current condition.


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

"many in the neighborhood are saddened"

Who are these "many" people that are sad that some wood (that made it 150 years! good job wood!) will be replaced by metal or glass or cladding (that will likely last longer and be more energy efficient)? I'd like to direct them to do something with their lives. Join CityMeals. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Contribute to the Red Hook Food Pantry. Anything but wasting their lives away worrying about construction materials.

Katia said...

I would venture to say that any new material used on this house will last 30 to 40 years, not 150 like the original wood. There was nothing wrong with the house the way it was. One can be sad about losing a piece of neighborhood history and be a contributor to good causes at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive, Anon.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see the architecture of our neighborhood changing. We are 3rd generation Brooklynites from this neighborhood, this is our "hometown". These beautiful buildings have been around for many years. Why do people insist on moving into a neighborhood because they love it and then proceed to change it? These new buildings are ugly, I could care less how long they last, and I highly doubt they will last as long as these old houses will. Entitled to my opinion, For the anonymous person who posted the rude comment, if you do not like it, you go find something useful to do with your time. My grandparents lived, owned a home and had a business here, as did my parents, and my husband and I still live here. We raised our children here. We have contributed plenty to this neighborhood. We belong here. If you are one of the many nasty people we come across lately that's too bad, because we have also met a few decent people. Unfortunately, people like you make it difficult to want to be nice.

Jimmy from Brooklyn said...

2;55Pm is one of the dumbest comments I have read on this site. People being sad by an aesthetic and you assuming then that they have free time and should "do something with their lives" is like comparing apples to oranges.

Anonymous said...

2:55 PM, you are a snob and the very reason why people who have lived and loved these neighborhoods mourn when these beautiful communities start to look like any other sanitized neighborhood - any town USA. I wonder how active YOU are in maintaining the integrity of these areas?

Anonymous said...

2:55 PM, you are a snob and the very reason why people who have lived and loved these neighborhoods mourn when these beautiful communities start to look like any other sanitized neighborhood - any town USA. I wonder how active YOU are in maintaining the integrity of these areas?

Anonymous said...

Yes. 2:55 is a NIMBY. But this is in my backyard and the fabric and character of this area is being sold and altered at an alarming rate. This old storefronts are very rare. Smith Street has many which in the day made the street so appealing.
But let's not forget the huge amount of money the owners made selling. This is their retirement.
Albeit it is a shame the buyers felt the need to erase the faces of these two charming houses, insisting on a boring characterless facade.
This sadly is progress. People who have money are rich. And Thick. It's all about the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

I would venture that 2:55 is not a NIMBY ("not in my backyard") as those types resist change to their neighborhood. 2:55 sounds rather pro-change and probably lauds every new metal and glass facade, few of which ever look right in the context of brownstone Brooklyn (or even parts of Manhattan). 2:55 is thus a YIMBY - a neologism popularized or possibly even invented by Nikolai Fedak's blog that acts as a local cheerleader for real estate development.

Anonymous said...

CG has lost much of its charm along the Smith/Court strips. The neon signs outside the flashy fashion stores are an eyesore.
2:55pm is a pro-wall street, pro-development, pro-big-box new transplant to Brooklyn, unfortunately more and more of his ilk will displace the old guard and while he and others consume the beauty, charm and calm of CG and Park Slope.

These neighborhood needs to be rezoned as a historical neighborhood. No more development, no more cars, traffic, exhaust, fumes, trash, garbage, and consumption. That sadly belong to Manhattan.

Brooklyn is residential. Brooklyn is for homes and living. Not shopping and not tower-high steel and glass monstrosities.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. The building is a stunning original Greek Revival storefront. I've never seen another. I'm sad to see it go. The building is being enlarged -- hence the destruction of the facade.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the money grubbing Zooks are laughing all the way to St Thomas

Katia said...

I don't think we should blame them, Anon.

Anonymous said...

I am not so sure it was original material. Seems to me they completely redid the front some years back --and a great job they did.

neil said...

Interesting that the permit says no enlargement or facade alteration (if I am reading it correctly), but elsewhere in the application it says the facade will be altered. Also, the rendering shows an extra floor from what is there currently (with Juliette balconies, a sure sign of quality).

This is really a shame. This was a huge part of the character of that block and event that stretch of Court St. Of course, it was part of what made it so valuable, and the only way for a developer to recoup their expense is to do something like this.

Anonymous said...

Nimby yimby whatever. I called him a nimby because it's probably not in his backyard so he can complain and rant until someone drops a skyscraper next door. And the zooks sold. They didn't give conditions. And there are a few remaining structures of this style, you juts have to know where to look. There are a few in brooklyn heights and other neighborhoods. So. Not all is lost yet.