In an area composed primarily of late nineteenth century rowhouses, the wood-framed Italianate villa at 70 Lefferts Place is one of few extant remnants of Clinton Hill South’s mid-nineteenth century suburban past. Constructed c. 1854 for the prominent merchant James W. Elwell, the house is one of the two oldest houses on Lefferts Place and a rare surviving freestanding house in Clinton Hill South.
For nearly 80 years the Elwell House was owned by members of the Elwell family; its rich cultural history was augmented by its subsequent association with the charismatic black evangelical leader, Father Divine, from 1939 to 1981. Likely derived from architectural pattern books, the Elwell House maintains many of its original Italianate characteristics, such as its cubical massing with projecting front bay, flat roof with wide projecting eaves and finely carved wood brackets, attic windows, pronounced front pediment, paired roundheaded windows at the second story of the front façade and rooftop cupola.
*Excerpt from the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report
STATUS Designated Individual Landmark
Clinton Hill has a variety of building types including row houses, mansions, stables, apartment houses, and institutional buildings. They were constructed during the 1840s into the 1920s and display the many styles popular over the course of nearly a century.Explore the Neighborhood >
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Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society