A Journey Around and For Park Slope

Imagine a tour of Park Slope that’s fun, inspirational, and educational — and that benefits organizations throughout our community. Well, you don’t have to imagine, because it’s coming up soon: the Civic Council’s annual House Tour.

The 52nd edition of the always-popular self-guided house-to-house journey will explore the South Slope, an area currently under review to be included in an expanded Park Slope Historic District. The tour will be on Sunday, May 15, noon to 5 p.m., and starts from P.S. 107 (Eighth Avenue and 13th Street). There, tour-goers can pick up the required house brochure and shoe covers. The event will conclude at 5:30 with “South Slope 1900: Lives and Times,” an illustrated lecture by architectural historian Francis Morrone at the Park Slope Jewish Center, Eighth Avenue and 14th Street.

Tickets can be purchased online, at local retailers, and on the day of the tour (visit www.parkslopeciviccouncil.org/house-tour). Proceeds from the tour fund the entire Civic Council’s grants program, which provides thousands of dollars each year to local schools, organizations, and nonprofit programs.

“We have a real variety of beautiful houses on the tour this year,” said Candace Woodward, a Civic Council trustee who has been organizing this event for several years. On the tour, people “will realize that Park Slope isn’t just traditional brownstones.” For example, an 1890s carriage house has been transformed into a dramatic, contemporary 4,000-square-foot loft with large windows and skylights. Highlights include a stunning kitchen area, abstract paintings by Maria Louisa Pacheco, and a handsome American Indian hanging. A doorway leads to an inviting patio and abundant vegetable garden.

There will also be an outstanding example of green living at an 1858 wood-frame communal living home. Geothermal heating and cooling, recycled floor boards, and a lovely garden watered by the home’s own well through underground drip hoses are a few of its earth-friendly features. An impressively grand Chambers Stove presides over the kitchen.

Another stop is an 1893 Romanesque Revival home, which sat vacant for 35 years before the current owners purchased it. Walking into the parlor of the house, you’ll see a beautiful example of a Bradbury & Bradbury papered ceiling, Anaglyppa wainscoting, and an old Victrola. A rare oil painting of Marilyn Monroe hangs in the front bedroom. The charming kitchen, featuring a coal stove and original pine plank flooring, leads to a brick patio with dogwood and cherry trees.

A 1903 Flemish Renaissance home featuring Steve Mumford paintings of Iraq War scenes and a stunning photograph of the Na Pali Coast by Peter Lik plus a Victorian period stop at a 1901 Romanesque Revival house are also among the domiciles on the tour. Each is a major point of interest for Woodward.

“I also think the talk following the tour will be fascinating,” she added, as it will explore how residents of the area both rich and poor worked, learned, lived, and had fun at the turn of the previous century. Lecturer Morrone, a three-decade Park Slope resident himself, was recently named by Travel + Leisure as one of the 13 best tour guides in the world for the trips he leads with the Municipal Arts Society. Known for such books as An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn and The Park Slope Neighborhood and Architectural History Guide, he has a new work coming out in June, The New York Public Library: The Architecture and Decoration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Advance tickets are available for $20 online and at select local retailers (see our website for details as well as rules for the tour), and $25 the day of the event.


Granting awards

The money earned from the House Tour goes back into the community to fund annual grants for a diverse group of active, creative nonprofit organizations that contribute to our community’s diversity and vitality.

[pullquote]Nearly $6,000 in Civic Council grants went to local groups.[/pullquote]

Grants recipients for the 2010–11 grants cycle were announced at the April Civic Council Trustees meeting. A total of $5,600 was given to eight groups.

The largest, a Community Builder grant of $2,000, was given to the P.S. 39 Parent’s Association, for “Edible Community: A Learning Garden for P.S. 39 Students.” The school plans to construct an on-site learning garden, where students will grow edible plants and study botany through activities intended to develop their appetites for fresh food and foster environmental responsibility. The grant will fund installation of planting beds and irrigation and composting systems, along with the purchase of supporting classroom materials.

Regular grants, each worth $500 except where noted, were announced for:

  • GALLOP Horse Show, to fund an event this June in Prospect Park that demonstrates the skills of people with disabilities. This noncompetitive horse show will display what the children have learned.
  • BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn ($600), for Celebrate Brooklyn honoraria for storytellers at the Ezra Jack Keats Family Concert. The show, which features celebrity storytellers who read the works of the children’s book author prior to the concert, has become an annual tradition and the centerpiece of Celebrate Brooklyn’s family programming.
  • Chocolate Chip Chamber Music, for Education Day program and guide. Chocolate Chip Chamber Music introduces young children to live ensemble music in an enjoyable and playful way. Funding will help the organization print teachers’ guides and develop a web page to extend the concert experience into more classrooms.
  • Park Slope Parents for Climate Protection, for speaker honoraria, publications, and information packets. The organization’s goal is to educate parents on the causes and implications of global warming, and work toward passage of climate protection legislation. The grant will be used for guest honoraria and publicity for Eco-Drinks events (each a brief talk followed by a question-and-answer session and letter writing on climate issues).
  • BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange. BAX provides support for emerging performing artists, arts education for Brooklyn youth from low- and moderate-income families, and teaching residencies in Brooklyn public schools. BAX also produces an annual season in its theater. Our grant will subsidize tuition for five preschools to attend Arts Education Professional Development Workshops that BAX conducts.
  • P.S. 321 School Garden, for a tensile triangle shade system and picnic tables. The garden, called Plantville, has been quite successful since original funding last year. The new grant will fund a learning center with benches, tables, and shade structure to create a more accessible and functional space adjacent to the garden, accommodating maximum class size as needed.
  • Friends of Douglass/Greene Park, Inc., for Gowanus Grind III. The Douglass Greene Park is a recreational gem on Third Avenue and Douglass Street in an area of the community where there is little open space. The grant will pay for a skateboard instructor and awards at this springtime event, which attracts users, new and old, to the park.

The application process for Community Builder and regular grants begins every year in early October. For more information, e-mail grants@parkslopeciviccouncil.org, or sign up for Civic Council e-mail updates at www.parkslopeciviccouncil.org.

— David Herman

from the Spring 2011 Civic News