Tomorrow, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote to designate a brand-new historic district in Park Slope and ten Individual Landmarks from a list of thirty which the LPC has prioritized for designation.
No testimony will be taken, as all items have had public hearings, but you can find HDC’s testimony and a photograph for each of the Landmarks below. Please show support for your favorite Landmark-to-be: show up tomorrow at One Center Street, 9th Floor, Public Hearing Room.
We hope to see you there!
Perhaps of greatest interest to the PSCC and its members is the proposal to designate (LP-2558) what they call “Park Slope Historic District Extension II,” a pretty hefty portion of “the North Slope.”
Here’s a map giving you a good sense of what’s involved.
HDC has been working with neighborhood advocates since 2000 on the goal of extending the Park Slope Historic District to encompass more of the neighborhood’s historic buildings. We used this as a case study for our Boundaries Project in 2004, have spoken on several panels about this effort – often with members of the Landmarks Commission – and have gone to numerous meetings, both large and small, over the course of the last 13 years. This seems like a long time, but when one considers that community residents have been actively campaigning to extend the historic district since 1970 – three years before the district was actually designated – this is a mere drop in the bucket.
HDC is in strong support of this proposal, although we would prefer that the designation encompasses more of what the community had requested. As the recently revealed plans for the expansion of Methodist Hospital onto unprotected properties on Eighth Avenue demonstrate, the community is willing to accept new developments in the area but in the long run, the neighborhood would greatly benefit from the oversight and guidance which liberal historic district boundaries afford. Drawing boundaries too conservatively only leads to future regrets and, at best, corrective actions to properly square the corners of a meritorious district.
A second Park Slope “proposed designation” (LP-0150) goes to St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church and Rectory, 130 Sixth Avenue – a Gothic Revival style church designed by the Parfitt Brothers and built in 1888.
It is astonishing that moving just a few blocks south of the sprawling mess of Atlantic Center, one finds St. Augustine’s Church and Rectory, occupying an entire block of 6th Avenue between Sterling and St. John’s Places. It is here that the some of the most beloved parts of Brooklyn begin, as described in the Park Slope designation report: “…one is immediately struck by the homogeneous quality of this street. It still embodies today the distinction that Brooklyn had, in the 19th century, as a city of homes and churches. The vista along the avenue between Sterling Place and Union Street has an understated regularity dramatically accented by the spires of two churches, St. Augustine’s at Sterling Place and St. Francis Xavier at Carroll Street.”
The Gothic Revival, High Victorian style church is known as “the Cathedral of Park Slope”. When it opened, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle declared St. Augustine Church “one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the country,” and later, “one of Brooklyn’s most picturesque churches.” The American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City put it best: “Sixth Avenue is one of Park Slope’s grandest streets, block after block containing rows of amazingly preserved row housing. St. Augustine’s provides an oasis along the stately avenue, both spatially and in change of scale. The crusty tower with its mottled brownstone contrasts with the smoothness of the row housing. It is one of the most elaborate and architecturally distinguished Roman Catholic churches in Brooklyn, which has as many Roman Catholic churches as Rome. Queen Victoria’s best awaits you within.”
This lauded complex is the epitome of a landmark and we urge the Commission to officially protect these structures as part of their rightful home, just steps from the Park Slope Historic District.
[We are VERY GRATEFUL to the Historic Districts Council for the detailed write-ups above!]