Talk about freshening up!
Park Slope’s historic bathhouse emerged from behind scaffolding on July 7 after a year-plus-long renovation of the turn-of-the-century facility — which could not have come at a better time, according to a rep for the developer.
“It was incredible the building was still standing,” said Greystone’s Cian Hamill.
The 111-year-old building — which operated as a community and events center for two decades before Greystone purchased it in 2014 to secure the property’s air rights for an adjacent, 13-story residential project — could not have been in worse shape by then, according to the spokesman, who said its steel superstructure suffered from severe rot.
“There were definitely a lot of surprises along the way,” he said.
The bathhouse at 227 Fourth Ave. between President and Union streets, which opened in 1910, was commissioned by the city to serve residents of nearby tenement buildings at a time when indoor plumbing remained optional.
The handsome building’s neo-classical design by architect and Brooklyn native Raymond Almirall was used to encourage people to take baths, according to Hamill.
“The thinking was if this building had the same prestige as a bank, courthouse, or library it would entice people to use the facility,” he said.
But public baths like the Slope facility, which were located across the city, became obsolete in the 1930s when indoor plumbing became a requirement for all residences. The structure was reborn as a gymnasium that decade, which it remained until it was abandoned in the 1950s.
The National Register of Historic Places recognized Almirall’s bathhouse in 1984, and the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission made it a landmark that year, meaning it cannot be demolished and its façade cannot be changed without the city’s permission.
Greystone salvaged as much of the original glazed brick, limestone, and terracotta from the façade as it could, but large portions of the structure’s outer walls had to be scrapped, and the builders used a lightweight concrete to replicate the discarded portions, Hamill said.
The bathhouse, now fully renovated, will try its luck as a gym again when new tenant Blink Fitness opens for business later this month.