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The story of a powerful 1850s home dubbed the Blue Belle of Brooklyn

The story of a powerful 1850s home dubbed the Blue Belle of Brooklyn

2023-09-22 17:31:15

It’s the blue belle of Brooklyn; a former nation villa that stands alone at 271 Ninth Road, between walkup flats and a featureless one-story Submit Workplace.

Passing this dowager magnificence, which has stood on the block between Fourth and Fifth Avenues because the Antebellum period, is like being in a time machine. Every part about it’s a fantastic anachronism: the mansard roof, the lacy ironwork over the bay home windows, the entrance yard with rosebushes and lavender.

How did such a spectacular home come to be—after which handle to stay round for greater than a century and a half? The story begins in the midst of the nineteenth century.

Think about immediately’s Park Slope within the a long time previous to 1850. Earlier than elegant brownstone rows sprang up, the realm was largely pasture or bucolic countryside within the farming city of Flatbush—not but a part of town of Brooklyn.

However the 1850s had been transformative, and what we now name Brooklyn started rising into its new position as an accessible-by-ferry suburb of Manhattan. A farmer descended from the Adriance household—whose holdings stretched from present-day Third Avenue into Prospect Park—bought off heaps for growth.

One purchaser in 1854 was a profitable Wall Road service provider named William Cronyn (some references spell it Croynyn). Between 1856 and 1857, Cronyn constructed his suburban villa removed from city ills: a French Second Empire delight “reflecting the prosperity of the unique proprietor,” because the Landmarks Preservation Commission put it in a report on the home in 1978.

“Of body and brick building coated with stucco, the three-story home contains a central half-story cupola with a clerestory [windows above eye level] which lights the inside staircase,” famous the LPC report. “Under the cupola is a slate mansard roof with finish pavilions and decorative iron cresting” typical of this fanciful fashion, well-liked within the 1850s-1870s.

The Cronyns solely stayed till 1862. As the home switched arms and residential growth accelerated after the Civil Struggle, neighbors arrived. “Throughout the late 1860s, different websites on this block alongside Fifth Avenue, Eighth Road, after which Ninth Road started to be developed,” states the LPC report.

Apparently the neighborhood had one thing of against the law downside as effectively. On August 11, 1871, the Brooklyn Each day Eagle reported the story of a diamond service provider who was a houseguest of the Shanks household—the occupants of the home on the time. One afternoon, the service provider was overwhelmed, robbed, and located moaning on the curb at Ninth Road and Fourth Avenue.

“That is the newest and boldest assault of a collection which have been made in Gowanus throughout the previous two or three months,” the reporter stated.

In 1879, Daniel H. Grey, who labored in sulpher refining, purchased the blue belle. In 1885, he transferred possession of the home to his daughter, Mary Grey Cone, who lived on this dwelling till 1896, as South Brooklyn turned an enclave of brownstones for white collar residents and later, flats and tenements for working-class people.

On the flip of the Twentieth century, the home entered a brand new period. “Charles M. Higgins acquired the property in 1898 because the headquarters for his India ink firm, which occupied the constructing till the mid-Twentieth century,” per the LPC report.

“The ink manufacturing facility was positioned to the rear of the home going through Eighth Road. This modification in use for the constructing mirrored the change within the space to incorporate business makes use of in addition to residential ones.”

Higgins was an fascinating character, a minimum of based mostly on all the letters he wrote the Brooklyn Each day Eagle over time. He signed his letters utilizing a special title relying on the problem: as a part of the Brooklyn Moral Affiliation, or the South Brooklyn Board of Commerce, or the Anti-Vaccination League of America.

Born in Eire however raised in Brooklyn, Higgins died in 1929. In his final decade, he left the borough a becoming legacy. “Higgins was chargeable for the Minerva statue in Inexperienced-Wooden Cemetery, and is buried behind her, on the hill,” wrote Suzanne Spellen of Brownstoner.

In 1981, Charles Sibirsky, a jazz pianist, and his spouse purchased the blue belle and opened a music faculty, based on Spellen. “Slope Music” is embossed on a half-moon window above the slender entrance door. I think about that is when the yellow flowers arrived on the roof, making the home much more whimsical.

Some individuals may see the blue belle and consider the Addams household. Others may really feel as I do, that this beautiful survivor is a captivating ghost from the borough’s previous—a witness to all of the adjustments as the realm went from Flatbush farmland to residential Gowanus, South Brooklyn, and now Park Slope.

See Also

And by chance, it’s been landmarked since 1978.

[Fourth photo: 1940, NYPL Digital Collections; Sixth image: Brooklyn Daily Eagle; Seventh photo: LPC Report, likely 1978]

Tags: 271 Ninth Street Brooklyn Park Slope, Blue French Second Empire House Brooklyn, Blue Old House Ninth Street Brooklyn, Most Charming House in Brooklyn, Park Slope History Houses, Park Slope Old Blue House Ninth Street

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