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“This is yet
another example of the kind of houses that we’re losing for no apparent
reason,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic
He said the Gowanus area is overlooked due to its less-than-glamorous industrial working-class history.
“That area of the world, the area right around there, has been kind of discarded by the people of Brooklyn,” Bankoff lamented. “It’s got this terrible reputation, they’ve forgotten what the history is about.
“I refuse to believe that a sensitive and adequate read of a 19th-century building is a bad idea. I do not countenance the destruction of a 19th-century building without a full understanding of it,” Bankoff said, adding that he preferred the idea of a renovation that would include the original facade, or an adaptive re-use.
“We’re losing our history by doing this,” he said. “We don’t need any more of these big, boxy, ugly things that are ruining the landscaping of Brooklyn.
“Clinton Hill has a whole mess of carriage houses and they’ve done their best to rescue them and save them, they’ve even gone through an attempt to contextually rezone to try and save them,” added Bankoff.
But Erik Fortmeyer, a Boerum Hill researcher who delights in the neighborhood’s pre-Civil War history, said that given the condition of the old building, it was unlikely to be saved.
“It’s a shame that that place is going,” he agreed. “It’s unfortunate that it’s located [outside a landmark district]. In another place, it might be preserved, but near the Gowanus Canal area, it probably wouldn’t be worth the effort from a landlord’s perspective.
“There’s no practicable way to use that stable, and it’s a real darn shame,” said Fortmeyer, who dated the Bond Street building back to 1870.
“Renovating it would be hard,” he said. “When you start seeing more like the mews-type arrangements, those little carriage houses were designed more for human habitation, but [this] particular situation was designed just for horses.
“It’s kind of hard to renovate that in an effective way that could be used for humans,” Fortmeyer said.
“It’s just a terribly unfortunate tragedy that it has to go, but there’s no way to make it useful, unless the city owned it or a rich person owned it and could just write it off as a curiosity.”
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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