**For Immediate Release**
July 14, 2011
Contacts: Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191
WALLABOUT DESIGNATED A HISTORIC DISTRICT BY LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMITTEE
Unanimous approval was given for the Wallabout Historic District on Tuesday by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The community is now protected from the threat of new out-of-context high rises and condos, similar to a building erected in this area four years ago in place of a small garage and house.
The Wallabout area is in Northwestern Brooklyn just south of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Most of the structures were erected in the mid-1800s, and retain original details that lend a cohesive quality to the streetscape.
The new Wallabout Historic District consists of approximately 55 buildings on Vanderbilt Avenue between Myrtle and Park Avenues in Brooklyn. Two local groups, the Historic Wallabout Association and the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project, have been working since 2003 to get landmark designation for the neighborhood. As an historic district, Wallabout buildings are protected from demolition and significant changes, as this area may contain the city’s largest collection of Civil War era wood-frame houses.
NYC Council Member Letitia James said: “I wish to thank Chair Tierney and Commissioners for the designation of the Wallabout Historic District - a section of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill north of Myrtle Avenue. Members of the Wallabout community, under the leadership of Gary Hattem and Blaise Backer, have been working many years for this day.
As you may know, this area consists primarily of wood-frame structures built before and during the Civil War, and is believed to be the City’s largest concentration of such buildings. This neighborhood has already suffered from the demolition of numerous historic buildings, as well as out-of-scale construction. The loss of more of our past, and the loss of this fabric of our historic neighborhoods will be prevented with this Historic Designation.
We are grateful that Landmark’s staff saw the historic value in this special neighborhood, of fairly modest homes built for working- and middle-class families, and that the integrity of this collection of structures will serve as an example for more Historic Districts of this nature.”
While the Wallabout LPC-Designated Historic District is confined to only Vanderbilt Avenue between Myrtle and Park Avenues, a larger NY State and National Register District, comprised of 233 buildings on 5 blocks between Myrtle and Park Avenues, was designated in March of this year, and will allow property owners within the district to tap into low interest loans, tax credits, and other financial incentives for preservation work on their buildings.
More information on the background of the Wallabout Historic District is below:
A variety of architectural styles are present in the Wallabout Historic District. In addition to Greek and Gothic Revival wood homes with original or early porches, cornices and other details, brick and stone row houses in Italianate and Neo-Grec styles along with masonry tenements line the streets between Myrtle and Park Avenues. A row of Neo-Grec brownstones erected in 1878 are amongst the earliest known residences built on speculation by the Pratt family.
Residential development of the area in the 1830’s, 40’s, and 50’s coincided with the rapid population increase in the city of Brooklyn. Being part of the flatlands along the East River, Wallabout was not looked upon with the prestige allotted to neighboring Fort Greene or Clinton Hill. It's an area north of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, near the Navy Yard, between Flushing and Park Avenues, and the BQE runs through it.
Since the flatlands along the river were not considered to be as prestigious for residential development as the uplands several blocks inland, much of the construction in Wallabout was of wood houses rather than the more expensive brick or stone dwellings that typify the adjacent Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods. Most of the buildings were single-family dwellings of modest scale, although several may have been inhabited by two or more households.
Wallabout takes its name from a group of Walloons who settled on a modest bay on Brooklyn’s East River waterfront in 1624, calling it Waal-bogt. The area remained rural throughout much of the 18th century. Residential development began in the early 19th century and accelerated with expansion of the Brooklyn Navy Yard along Wallabout Bay in the middle of the century.
While some of the houses have undergone alterations in subsequent years, the buildings within the Wallabout Historic District on the whole retain an exceptional level of integrity. This architecturally significant collection of early wood and masonry houses represents an important part of the history of the neighborhood and of Brooklyn in general.