“The great American front porch was just there, open and sociable, an unassigned part of the house that belonged to everyone and no one, a place for family and friends to pass the time,” said architect Davida Rochlin in her essay “Home, Sweet Home.” It was this idea that Brooklyn-based firm Noroof Architects kept in mind when redesigning this 1879 two-story, wood-frame home in Bed-Stuy. It was structurally sound and maintained original details like its covered porch with original cornice and trim, marble mantels, and carved stair balusters, but mechanically required a full gut renovation. To complete their “porcHouse” vision, Noroof added a two-story addition at the rear that they say “creates a kind of ‘interior portico.’”
Wood-frame houses are some of the oldest standing townhouses in Brooklyn, and the neighborhood of Clinton Hill boasts quite a few of them. This one at 123 Cambridge Place is now up for rent and would make for a nice summer pad. Not only does it have a rustic, country vibe inside the home, it’s got a garden growing strawberries, plums, tomatoes and zucchini.
There are very few wood frame homes remaining in Manhattan — with some sprinkled throughout neighborhoods like the Upper East Side and the Village — but here’s one at 312 East 53rd Street, in Turtle Bay. It was constructed in 1866, right before the city prohibited further construction of wooden buildings due to the fire hazard. Since then, this home, and its wood-framed neighbor next door, amazingly still stand. Residents of both homes can be traced all the way back to 1866 — No. 312 was once occupied by Lincoln Kirstein, who would go on to found the New York City Ballet. Its latest owners are Jessica and Robert Nacheman, a principal at the engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti, who bought it back in 2012 for $2.275 million and put it up for rent.
This wood-frame townhouse at 106 Cambridge Place in historic Clinton Hill is in much better shape than some of its nearby Civil War-era brethren, many of which have been shored up and shined up with modern conveniences, leaving little remaining of their 19th century details. This 1860s house, however, is both gracefully preserved and filled with modern comforts both practical and stylish. Another distinction: The house appeared on the TV series “White Collar,” as the home of FBI Agent Peter Burke.
This five-bedroom, 20-foot-wide townhouse, after being listed for sale for $2.89 million last year, is now on the rental market for $7,995 a month. Since the listing refers to the upper triplex, we’re assuming the garden apartment is either separately rented or otherwise used by the owners.
No matter how lavish, developer and flipper renovations rarely hold a candle to the custom designs executed by architects for their clients’ homes–even more so when the architects are the clients and the homes are their own. This unassuming townhouse at 702 Monroe Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, on the market for $1.635 million, is a prime example.
In this case, the innovative pair behind architecture firm noroof (they received national recognition for their “Slot House” and specialize in designing small spaces) worked their creative and practical magic on a comparatively compact historic Brooklyn townhouse with a unique front porch and a lot of potential charm. Based on love and respect for the porch as a gathering, sheltering and enhancing element, they’ve named the resulting project “porchouse,” an elegantly-designed home with a clean, modern interior that’s perfect for family living–with plenty of curb appeal.
Townhouses available for rent have a way of seeming decadent and dreamy, the perfect home for a collective of friends or a lucky city family. Their monthly bill is often but a dream for many as well, and this Upper East Side home asking $18,500 a month is no exception; the house itself, however, is quite exceptional.
The amazingly preserved home at 120 East 92nd Street, as well as its neighbor at number 122, and a third, a block over at number 160, comprise a trio of wooden houses built between 1859 and 1871, before the city sprung up on all sides. This collection of dainty wooden houses presents an utterly charming shock of nostalgia amid the brick, stone and steel of Manhattan’s Upper East. One of the last wood-frame houses to be built in Manhattan, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission called 120 East 92nd “…a delightful surprise. Time and change have passed it by.” But change, in this case, has been good: The three-story, four-bedroom home’s longtime owners have renovated it for comfort and livability–and preserved it with the utmost care; it boasts every modern convenience while keeping its historic beauty.