At its first meeting of the new year, the Park Slope Civic Council announced the four recipients of its 2014 Evelyn and Everett Ortner Preservation awards. The awards ceremony began with an account by Clem Labine, founder of the Old House Journal, of the many ways that the Ortners helped revitalize and preserve Park Slope. The awards program has 2 objectives. One is to recognize completed construction projects and actions that have helped preserve the appearance of Park Slope. The other is to encourage renovations, new construction and interventions that will enhance the appearance of the neighborhood.
107 Prospect Park West, which was built in 1899, received the Ortner Award for Exterior Rehabilitation. The building, originally a single family mansion, had been converted into an apartment house and abandoned in the 1980s. When it was purchased by Horrigan Development in 2011, it had deteriorated to such an extent that holes extended from the roof to the cellar, resulting in substantial water damage on every floor. The building had to be gutted and largely rebuilt and new systems had to be installed. As a result of this extensive rehabilitation, the building is once again a stately neo-Italian dwelling, now containing five condominiums, that enhances the appearance of Prospect Park West.
The Lincoln Place Block Association received the Ortner Award for Neighborhood Intervention. Working together, the members of the Association prevented a brownstone on their landmarked block from being expanded in a manner that would have been detrimental to the appearance of their attractive block and backyards. Working together, they were able to convince Community Board 6 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission to withhold their approvals of the homeowners’ expansion plan. As a result of their initiative and efforts, they were able were preserve the appearance of their immediate neighborhood and thereby Park Slope.
PS 39, the Henry Bristow Elementary School, which was built in 1877, received the award for Exterior Restoration. It is one of the oldest continuously operating schools in the United States and one of the oldest buildings in Park Slope. Over the years, the school’s exterior gradually deteriorated to such an extent that it was becoming a danger to its students, teachers and passersby. The NYC School Construction Authority selected Brice Architecture to play a paramount role in repairing the damage while preserving the school’s Victorian charm. The work included reconstructing the school’s slate tiled mansard roof, replacing its cornice and fabricating and installing decorative copperwork and repointing and replacing brick and stone masonry. All of this was accomplished while classes were in session. Because of this sensitive restoration, the school will retain its historic appearance and serve future generations of students in Park Slope.
319 Fourth Street, a recently completed new two-family home on a 16 foot wide vacant lot, received the award for New Construction. Although zoning would have allowed a much larger structure to be erected on the site, the joint venture partners of Seth Brown of Aspen Equities and Herbert and Gail Solomon erected a smaller house that achieved their goal, which was to “set a new standard for what contextual infill development in Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods could look like.” Through careful design and the use of green materials, they created a new energy efficient home that is compatible with the historic houses on this attractive block.
The jurors for the 2014 Ortner Awards – all of whom did a wonderful job and more than earned our gratitude – were Ingrid Abramovitch, architectural writer; Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director, Historic District Council; Clem Labine, founder: Old House Journal, Traditional Building & Period Homes; Laurie Lieberman, architect; Jean Miele, photographer/educator; Stuart Pertz, architect/urban planner/Professor; Andy Taylor, architect/Instructor, Institute for Classical Architecture.
As John Casson, the Ortner Awards program administrator pointed out, “The 4 projects and activities demonstrate quite clearly that renovation and new construction can make a positive contribution to the appearance of Park Slope and other brownstone neighborhoods. Hopefully, these examples of excellence in preservation will be emulated by others.”
Note: The “Lincoln Place” photo, above, is courtesy of Chas Plummer; the others were taken by John Casson.