The stately George DuPont Pratt House may not be the most elaborate of Clinton Hill’s magnificent mansions from the outside, but its opulent interiors are remarkable. Behind an ornate iron door exist large, leaded bay windows, a three-story circular stairway in dark walnut and carved, burl-wood pillars with an ivy motif. The work is jaw-dropping.
And starting May 6, the public can get a rare peek inside this Gilded Age Victorian, thanks to the Society for Clinton Hill’s biennial house tour. The Clinton Avenue home, between Willoughby and DeKalb avenues, is one of dozen stops on the tour, and one of three Pratt-family buildings that will be included on the schedule for the first time.
“People just go ga-ga when they see the architectural detail,” gushed Linda Scher, a Society for Clinton Hill member.
St. Joseph’s College owns the DuPont Pratt and the Charles Pratt house, a mansion across the street, which includes an original Otis elevator, plus the Pratt Library, which, sports a glass floor and marble staircase, Scher said.
House tours may not be everybody’s thing, but they are a Brownstone Brooklyn springtime ritual as sure as hay fever, and Clinton Hill is the first neighborhood on this year’s roster. Even if you can’t tell a parquet floor from a sheet of plywood, it’s always fun to poke around other people’s homes.
The George DuPont Pratt house may not be wired for the plasma TVs and whirlpool baths common in today’s estates, but the original details include plenty of wow-factor. Charles Pratt, a kerosene magnate and partner of John D. Rockefeller, built the house after completing his own palace first. It is one of four buildings he had crafted for his offspring on “the Hill,” as the aristocrats of the day called the area, explained Sharon Barnes, co-chair of the Society’s Landmarks Preservation Committee.
You enter the DuPont Pratt house from a brick annex of St. Joseph’s College, into a red Damask-clad parlor. The walls match the chairs and nicely offset the impressive crown molding and wooden built-in bookcases with leaded-glass doors.
Three glass chandeliers brighten a light gray living room, larger than many New Yorker’s apartments, that stretches along the North side of the building, The pink of petunia trees in the garden peeks through the heavy glass in the intricate panes of the windows. Even the mix of furnishings — antiques and some mid-century, grandmotherly classics — and a black and silver drum set incongruously placed at one end didn’t diminish the impressive spectacle.
The stunning front hallway, with orange walls and the fabulous curved stairway, was recently renovated, explained Michael K. Banbach, public affairs manager at St. Joseph’s. The former convent, which once housed 15 sisters, was renovated to accommodate school offices last year, he said.
Sister Elizabeth Hill, the college’s president, is active in the neighborhood and agreed to put the house on tour this year, Scher said. “She’s a real ball of energy,” Scher said, “and active in the Myrtle Avenue BID and the blogging community.”
The Society for Clinton Hill’s house tour (259 Washington Ave., between DeKalb and Willoughby avenues in Clinton Hill) will run from noon-5 pm on May 6. Tickets are $25 that day, $20 in advance. For information, call (718) 638-2978 or visit www.societyforclinto….
The Brooklyn Heights Association tour will take place on May 12. Check in begins at 12:30 at St. Ann’s School (129 Pierrepoint St. at Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights). Tickets are $30. For information, call (718) 858-9193.
The Park Slope Civic Council tour will take place on May 20 at noon. Meet at Congregation Beth Elohim (274 Garfield Pl. at Eighth Avenue in Park Slope). Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of. For information, call (718) 832-8227.
The Brownstone Brooklyn Garden District tour take place be on June 3 at 11 am. Meet at the BAM Triangle Garden (at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street). Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of. For information, call (718) 707-1277.
The Prospect-Lefferts Gardens self-guided tour will be on June 3 at noon. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 day of at Mike’s International Resaurant (552 Flatbush Ave. at Maple Street in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens) For information, call (718) 284-6210.
The Victorian Flatbush tour will take place on June 10 at 1 pm. The tour begins at Temple Beth Emeth (83 Marlborough Rd. at Church Avenue in Prospect Park South). For information, call (718) 859-3800.
The Crown Heights North tour will take place on October 6 at noon. The tour begins at St. Gregory’s Church (991 St. John’s Pl. at Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights). Tickets are $20. For information, call (718) 756-1920.
The Prospect Heights tour will take place on October 14 at noon. Location TBA. Tickets are $20. For information, call (718) 707-1277.
The Bedford Stuyvesant tour will be on October 20 at 11 am. Location TBA. Tickets are $20. For information, call (718) 574-1979.