Tuesday, April 24, 2018

With Prospects Of Being Landmarked, The Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten On President Street Returns To Market

Drawing of the building from The Brooklyn Eagle, November 21, 1897
238 President Street and 236 President Street seen in 1912 and today
It would appear that Avo Construction walked away from a deal to purchase the charming former Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten building at 236 President Street in Carroll Gardens.
A new listing for the property was pointed out to us by a reader, who came across it in the New York Times over the week-end.  The two story, one family home is now being marketed by Corcoran instead of Douglas Elliman, but the price remains at $4,950,000. (It was first offered for $5.399 million in June 2017.)

Avo had planned on demolishing the existing structure to make way for a six-story luxury condominium that would utilize the full floor area allowed by the lot’s R6A zoning.

The proposed demolition of 236 President Street would rob Carroll Gardens of an important part of its history. The two-story, stand-alone structure was designed by Hough & Duell in 1897 as the Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten in tribute to Hans S. Christian by his widow. A Norwegian immigrant, Christian lived at 231 President Street and owned a lime and brick factory on Second Street in Gowanus.

The building's uniqueness was mentioned in a November 1897 article in the Brooklyn Eagle, which covered the Kindergarten's dedication. "It is the only building of its kind in Brooklyn, so far as known, and one of the very few in existence in the City."

Though built exclusively as a kindergarten, complete with cloak room, teachers' parlor, matron's quarters, pantry, janitor's room and sun-filled classrooms, the building was transformed into a residence decades ago.

Alarmed by the possibility of losing the building, the residents of 238 President Street reached out to New York City's Landmark Preservation Commission to request expeditious historic landmark designation for the Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten, as well as their own building, which predates it by 45 years. 

In effect, the two buildings share much history. In February 1897, Mrs. Elmira Christian, Hans Christian's widow, purchased 238 President Street and deeded it to the Brooklyn Church Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. in her husband's memory. The building would became the “Brooklyn Deaconess Home and Training School of the Methodist Episcopal Church.” The school's charitable activities would serve the needs of immigrant families in the area.
The Christian Memorial Kindergarten was erected by Elmira Christian as a free standing structure on her property. Both buildings shared the same building parcel until 1974.

The community and elected officials overwhelmingly support the effort to landmark 236 President and 238 President Streets, and on April 10, 2018, the NYC LPC unanimously voted to calendar them "for consideration as individual New York City landmark buildings."

Of course, this does not mean that the two buildings have been landmarked, just that the Commission is committed to consider landmark status. However, in the meantime, 236 President Street can not be demolished without prior approval by the Commission until a final vote on its landmark status is taken.

One hopes that a new buyer will appreciate the building's history and will be respectful when planning an addition to realize its full floor area potential. And hopefully,  LPC will vote to protect it for generations to come.

According to the home's listing, Corcoran is planning an open house on April 29th.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Moment In Time: The Ice Cream Truck

You know that spring has definitely arrived in Carroll Gardens when the ice cream truck
 reappears after a long, long winter.

Harbor Seal Spotted Sunbathing In Gowanus This Past Week-End

Harbor Seal sunning in the 4th Street Basin of the Gowanus Canal this past Sunday.
(photo provided by E.P.A. Region 2)
photos courtesy of Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club

It seems that all creatures big and small enjoyed yesterday's picture perfect spring day.
The Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 was alerted to the presence of a Harbor Seal in the Gowanus Canal near Whole Foods on Sunday morning when a local resident sent a photo to the agency. The animal was sunbathing on top of equipment that had been moved into the 4th Street Turning Basin as part of a Dredging & Capping Pilot Project related to the Superfund clean-up of the canal.
Members of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club confirmed the sighting with an additional photo.
A seal in the heavily polluted canal is a rarity for sure. As we all know, the canal was declared a Federal Superfund site, an 'honor' reserved for the most contaminated places in the country.

In an email to the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, E.P.A. Community Involvement Coordinator Natalie Loney wrotes:
"Just wanted everyone to know that EPA reached out to the Riverhead Foundation on Sunday morning after the seal was spotted sunning on the floating dock in the 4th Street Turning Basin. (Pic attached) We were informed that if the animal was not in obvious distress it should be left alone. Apparently, harbor seals are very adept at navigating into and out of these types of channels/canals.
Moving forward, any additional sightings should be reported to the Riverhead Foundation. However, action is unlikely if the animal is not in obvious distress."

The Foundation's 24 hour hotline number is 631-369-9829.

Coming Up This Spring In Carroll Park: Bark Avenue Adopt-A-Thon And The Popular Carroll Park Fair

Spring has arrived in Carroll Park as hundreds of daffodils are currently in full bloom in one of Brooklyn's oldest parks. If you have not yet walked by, you should. Just in time for warmer and sunnier days, two very popular events have been scheduled in our neighborhood's green oasis.

The first is the Bark Avenue Adopt-A-Thon on Sunday, April 29th from 1 pm to 5 pm. (Rainday is May 6th). If you have been thinking about adopting a four-legged friend, this is your opportunity to meet some great dogs and cats looking for a home. And even if you can't provide a home for a pet, please come out and support the wonderful rescue groups that will be taking part in this event.

From the organizers:

Come join us for a blast from the past for this year’s 70’s ‘Disco Dog’ theme! Brooklyn’s own ‘Brian Travolta’ is sure sure to show us some moves this dog day afternoon! We have lots of fun activities this year including a puppet show by the Mayor’s Alliance For NYC’s Animals, An agility course by Dogboy and a pup photo booth by Mobile Mutts to name a few!

Rescue groups that will be participating:

The second event this spring is Friends Of Carroll Park's annual Carroll Park Fair on Saturday, May 19th.
This is the non-for-profit group's main fundraiser. It enables FoCP's volunteers to do all their great work in the Park -- movie nights, karaoke, the Halloween party, all the plantings, and more.

Come on out, support your park and have a great time doing it! Meet your neighbors, find bargains, empty your wallet. There will be live music, face painting and more.

If you want to reserve a space for the fair where you can clear out your closet, promote your business or sell your product (sorry, no food or drink sales), contact Friends of Carroll Park at 917 574 0745 for more information. 10' x 10' spaces are only $35. But don't wait. The spaces fill up super fast.

'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Season 2 To Film In Carroll Gardens This Coming Thursday

photo credit: Amazon
Amazon Studios TV is currently filming the second season of 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel', the incredibly entertaining period drama about a Jewish housewife who discovers her talent as a stand-up comic. Beautifully set in the early 1960's, the series is not only entertaining but also a feast for the eyes.
This coming Thursday, April 26th from 5pm to 12 am, the show will be filming in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, according to notices that have been posted on those blocks.
(Don't forget to move your car by 6 am that day, if it is parked on Smith Street from Union Street to First Place or on President Street from Hoyt Street to Court Street)

If you are like us, you are probably eagerly anticipating the second season. One wonders what brings Mrs. Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan, to our neighborhood. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Another Charming Old Brick Building On Smith Street To Get The Glass Treatment In Upcoming 'Remuddle'

If the new silver-toned building that replaced a sweet wooden clapboard building at 159 Smith Street isn't ugly enough in Boerum Hill, it may soon have an equally out of place neighbor.
Just recently, Rime, a sneaker store, moved out of 157 Smith Street and a construction fence was erected around its fa├žade. A NYC Buildings Department permit indicates that this nice original old three-story brick building with a lovely cornice will soon get a vertical and horizontal extension.  According to a posted drawing, it will be stripped of all its charm in the process.

According to Zillow, 157 Smith Street changed hands in 2016 for $3,750,000. That is a lot of money and one can hardly blame a new owner for wanting to maximize every inch of floor-area allowed by zoning.  However, one does have to scratch one's head as to why someone buys a beautiful old building in a charming old neighborhood just to turn it into a stark modern glass structure.

What do you think, dear Reader?

Below is a photo taken in November 2014 of the three original buildings at 157, 159 and 161 Smith Street. Soon, only 161 will remain unchanged.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Picture Of The Day: Greetings From Gowanus

A Canadian goose making a stop in Gowanus, 
perhaps on its migration North.

Shawarma & Grill Coming To Smith Street Soon

Here is perhaps a nice addition to Smith Street: Shawarma & Grill will be opening soon at 101 Smith Street at the corner of Atlantic Avenue.  The new eatery will offer Mediterranean food, including kabobs, falafel, humus, salads and juices.
It sounds like a great place for a quick bite or for take-out food.  What do you think?

Until recently,101 Smith Street was the home of Urban Folk Art Gallery, which closed last year.

Oh, No! Refinery Closing After 21 Years On Smith Street

The string of retail closings continues here in South Brooklyn, with the announcement that Refinery at 248 Smith Street is closing after 21 Years.  The store carried unique handmade bags and purses designed by the owner Suzanne Bagdade. It also carried shoes, jewelry and home decor items.

Refinery had been one of the very first businesses to open as part of Smith Street's revival in the late 1990s and as such was a real pioneer.  It first occupied a much smaller storefront a few doors up, until moving to this bigger space a few years back.

According to the web site, RefineryBrooklyn.com, the closing is a consolidation with another location in Northampton, Massachusetts. The business will also maintain a presence on Etsy, which is reassuring.

How sad for the community to be losing Refinery.  We wish its owner good luck in their new venture.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Friends Of Firefighters Invite To Firehouse Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser To Provide Free Counseling To NYC Firefighters

photo courtesy of Friends of Firefighters

Friends of Firefighters, Inc. (FoF), a Red Hook-based nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the physical, mental health, and wellness needs of New York City's firefighters and their families, is hosting a fundraiser and would like to invite the community

From FoF:
Over the past 17 years, FoF has provided free counseling and wellness services to both active and retired FDNY firefighters and their families with the understanding that these services are necessary to this community and need to be delivered in a unique manner: with complete confidentiality, free of stigma, separate from the job, all the while respecting the unique firefighter culture.

Our first fundraising event of 2018 will be a Firehouse Chili Cook-Off on Friday, April 27 from 7PM-10PM at The Invisible Dog in Cobble Hill. Sponsored by Rockaway's Cuisine by Claudette, with live music by Staten Island rock trio Radio Flyerz, this fun and delicious event will feature firehouses from around the five boroughs as they toss in their ladles to impress us all with their best chili dish. There will be raffle prizes and the opportunity to bid on striking NYC photographs by talented fire department enthusiasts Mike Bartolomeo, Peter Brady, Kia Carbone, Eddie Heegan, Kyra King, Lloyd Mitchell, and Delta Phoenix. 

All proceeds will go to the continuation of programs and services for both active and retired FDNY firefighters and their families.

Tickets will be available at the door for $30, or you can purchase them in advance here for $25.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Manhole Explosion, Flooding and C.S.O. Discharges: An All Around Unpleasant Monday Morning In Gowanus


If you live on or near DeGraw and Bond Streets, you may have heard a loud bang this morning.  That sound came from an explosion in a Con Edison manhole, which prompted quite a response from the New York Fire Department, securing the area and putting out the fire.
Thankfully, it appears that no one was hurt when the explosion occurred.

After this morning's torrential rain, the Gowanus Canal once again smelled like an open sewer, as Combined Sewer Discharges were released into the waterway, as evidenced by the unpleasant smell of human waste and "floatables" on the surface of the water.

Getting over the Third Street Bridge on the Carroll Gardens side was hampered as usual in heavy rains. Cars carefully tried to navigate through the huge puddle, with some drivers just making a U-turn to avoid getting stuck.
All of this, and it was not even high tide when we took the photos. The next one is at 9:02 pm tonight, if you are keeping track.

An all around unpleasant Monday morning, we say. Glad to see the sun peaking out now.