Society fixes bluestone

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The Brooklyn Historical Society is replacing its traditional bluestone sidewalks and inproving other exterior details, thanks to a $4 million grant from the city.

“The city has been very good to us,” said BHS President Deborah Schwartz. “Nobody should have to walk over a cracked uneven sidewalk.”

The original sidewalks were installed about the same time as the five-story, Queen Anne and Italian Renaissance-style building in late 1800s, on the corner of Pierrepont and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights.

Over the years the large sheets of stone have shifted, cracked and become uneven atop the sand on which they sit. The new walkway will be supported by a layer of concrete.

“With the concrete under the stones, nobody should have to do any work on the sidewalk for another 200 years,” said Schwartz.

The new sidewalk will use two-thirds of the original stone. The rest will be newly cut from the bluestone quarries in upstate New York.

In addition to the sidewalk repairs, the railings leading to the entrance to the building will also be getting a facelift. The wrought iron railings, much of which have rusted and decayed over the years, will be disassembled and either replicated or repaired, depending on condition.

“These repairs will improve the quality of the building,” said Schwartz. “It will allow people to use the main entrance of the building, welcoming in residents.”

The project expected to be complete in the next six months.

Bluestone sidewalks, which were once predominant in Brooklyn Heights, have been disappearing, as the expense of fixing or replacing them is prohibitive compared to concrete sidewalks.

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