Bay Ridge’s first historic district moves one step closer to landmark designation
Image courtesy of Landmarks Preservation Commission
Bay Ridge residents and elected officials voiced their support for the neighborhood’s first historic district during a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing Tuesday. The commission voted in March to calendar the proposed Brooklyn district, known as the Bay Ridge Parkway Doctors’ Row Historic District. Comprised of 54 architecturally consistent row houses along Bay Ridge Parkway between 4th and 5th Avenues, the district includes a row of limestone-fronted houses–referred to as Doctors’ Row based on both its historic and current residential demographics. This block reflects the neighborhood’s growth from a suburban resort community to an urban neighborhood ahead of the opening of the 4th Avenue Subway line in the early 20th century.
The entire block under consideration was constructed by the Bay Ridge Development Company between 1906 and 1913. The homes consist of two-story-plus-basement row houses designed in the then-popular Renaissance Revival style, set back from the street, with paved and landscaped areaways.
Some of the buildings were altered to add medical offices with basement entrances. While during the start of the 20th century only a handful of doctors had offices on this block, by the 1950s more than half of the buildings contained offices for medical practices. Today the houses are mainly characterized by their intact limestone facades, bowed fronts, low stoops, stone lintels, sills and door surrounds, and original cornices.
Both Council Member Justin Brannan and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes sent representatives to speak on their behalf in support of landmarking the district. “Landmarks are an important part of how people come to know, love, and identify the places they live,” the statement from Brannan read. “I can tell you from personal experience that Doctors’ Row serves that purpose for my community.”
According to Kelly Carroll, the director of advocacy for the Historic Districts Council, the beauty of the block has been protected because of neighbor intervention.
“These residents have noted that in the recent years the aesthetic appeal of this row has been preserved due to neighbor to neighbor contact, including the prevention of a cornice removal by a new owner and the retention of original doors, which were initially discarded only to be restored by another neighbor,” Caroll said. She continued: “Without designation, there’s no guarantee that this block will retain its beauty for another century.”
The LPC will decide whether to designate Doctors’ Row during a vote, set for sometime in June.