When he penned an essay about his neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights in 1959, it was this wood-frame house at 13 Pineapple Street that inspired Truman Capote. “Cheerfully austere, as elegant and other-era as formal calling cards, these houses bespeak an age of able servants and solid fireside ease; of horses in musical harness,” he wrote, referencing the 1830 Federal-era home that was around the corner from his personal house. The Wall Street Journal reports that, for the past 26 years, the residence has been preserved by a couple who were drawn to its grey shingles as a reminder of the old houses in Nantucket they love. But now that their children are grown, they’re looking to downsize and have listed the storied property for $10.5 million.
One of the oldest structures in Brooklyn, the house is 50 feet wide, 4,000 square feet, and has seven bedrooms, a double-width garden, and an attached garage. All four levels feature the classic center hall.
The parlor and dining room both have large, south-facing windows and original period mantels. The living room also have full-height windows overlooking the garden and a wood-burning fireplace.
The kitchen has been modernized and features a lovely bay window surrounding a breakfast nook. On the floor below, there’s a large den/rec room, as well as a guest bedroom, full bath, laundry room, and wine closet. There are five bedrooms on the upper levels, plus a study and dressing room.
As the Journal notes, the essay written for Holiday magazine has become a sort of “rallying cry for generations of Brooklyn gentrifiers,” as it begins with “I live in Brooklyn. By choice.” It was later reprinted as a book called “A House on the Heights,” and it provides a history of the neighborhood, the story of why he chose to live there and descriptions of his favorite places. He talks about the Pineapple Street house further:
I’m not much acquainted with the proper history of the Heights. However, I believe (but please don’t trust me), that the oldest house, the house still extant and functioning, belongs to our back-yard neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Broughton. A silvery gray, single-wood Colonial shielded by trees robustly leafed, it was built in 1790, the home of a sea captain.
He also talks about his home at 70 Willow Street, where he wrote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood.” This home is the most expensive home ever sold in Brooklyn to date; it sold for $12 million in 2012.
The photo pictured on the book cover above shows Capote on a rear porch on Willow Street with 13 Pineapple Street in the background. Photographer David Attie took this and many other pictures of the author for the original Holiday magazine piece, but they never ran. They’re now part of an exhibition at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
On a more contemporary note, the current homeowners, retired lawyers Henry and Karoly Gutman, plan to relocate to the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park development Pierhouse.
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Photos courtesy of Brown Harris Stevens
Neighborhoods : Brooklyn Heights