Demolition permits have been applied, but not yet issued, for 669 St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights North. A “boutique condo” development may take its place, and, as a part of a zoning lot merger, its neighbor at number 673 is also endangered. Both historic structures were designed by architect E. G. W. Dietrich in 1888 as private commissions, and include rare, surviving carriage houses on their lots. Both mansions are significant architectural contributions to this block, which, at the turn of the 20th century was considered one of the most desired blocks in the (then) City of Brooklyn.
The Crown Heights North Association (CHNA) submitted a Request for Evaluation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to create the George Poole Chappell Historic District, comprised of St. Marks Avenue, between Nostrand and Rogers Avenues, where these properties are located. The LPC identified this block as having landmark potential in a 1976 survey, which documented the block as architecturally significant. HDC strongly supports this request and urges you to do so as well.
From the late 19th century until shortly after World War I, St. Marks Avenue was synonymous with class and wealth. “The St. Marks district” was known throughout the city as the home of some of Brooklyn’s wealthiest, and most influential families. The finest architects of the day were commissioned to design fine free-standing mansions and rowhouses on the blocks. Architect George Poole Chappell designed his own residence here, and there are at least six other homes attributed to him in the vicinity. Rowhouses designed by C.P.H. Gilbert in this district may be the only residences of this prominent Manhattan architect within Crown Heights North. Collectively, this proposed historic district features a distinguished selection of Neo-Grec, Romanesque Revival, Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival and Art Deco architecture which is remarkably intact. However, due to the many detached buildings and the over-heated development pressure in the neighborhood, the entire block is at grave risk of inappropriate and insensitive over-development which will endanger its character.*
Losing 669 and 673 St. Marks Avenue to this development will not only damage the historic character of this block but will also endanger landmark protections for the rest of the neighborhood. The Crown Heights North Association and the greater community have been campaigning for years to protect this part of the neighborhood through landmark designation. The time to act is now!
Please send a letter to the LPC and Councilmember Cornegy today to calendar the proposed George Poole Chappell Historic District!
*Special thanks to architectural historian Suzanne Spellen of the Crown Heights North Association for her indispensable research.