Extraordinary Community Efforts Lead to Landmarks Victory in Carroll Gardens

Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten, at 236 President Street. Image credit: LPC.

Carroll Gardens newest landmarks are a preservation of a rich history of service to the neighborhood. On September 18, 2018, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved individual landmark designation of the Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten at 236 President Street and adjacent 238 President Street House in the Carroll Gardens community in Brooklyn. The approvals came following strong appeal from the community to designate the properties as landmarks in order to preserve not only their rich cultural history and architectural heritage, but to help shield them from the threat of redevelopment.

The 236 President Street building was likely the first purpose-built kindergarten in Brooklyn serving predominantly immigrant children, while the 238 President Street House was a residence for Methodist Deaconesses in the late 19th century and later became the home of Alberto Baez, a pioneering Methodist minister who led Spanish-language services in Brooklyn.

Prior to calendaring the hearing, Landmarks received emails and letters supporting designation from many, including from State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Brooklyn Community Board 6, Cobble Hill Association, and members of the Carroll Gardens community. To read CityLand’s coverage of the calendaring, click here.

On June 26, 2018, Landmarks held a public hearing on the proposed designation. At the hearing, there was a strong amount of community support for designating the sites as landmarks including Council Member Brad Lander, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, a representative of Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez, Kings County Supreme Court Judge Michael Pesce, a long-time resident of 238 President Street, as well as representatives of the Historic Districts Council and Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association as well as several residents and others.

“The 238 President Street House and adjacent Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten are a former home for Methodist Deaconesses and a purpose-built kindergarten that taken together represent social improvements in education and immigrant welfare in Brooklyn, expanded opportunities for women in the late 19th century and are architecturally significant touchstones in the development of Carrol Gardens,” said presenter Sarah Moses, who works at the Landmarks Research Department. To read CityLand’s coverage of the designation hearing, click here.

238 President Street. Image credit: LPC.

The only speaker in opposition of designation was the attorney for the owners of 236 President Street who argued that the designation would impinge on the owners’ property rights.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate the buildings as landmarks. Designation will require that any current or future owners of either property receive Landmarks permission before they can make any changes to the properties’ exteriors. The property at 236 President Street is on the market, listed by the Corcoran Group for $4.45 million.

In the Landmarks Press Release issued on September 18, 2018, Landmarks Preservation Commission Vice Chair Frederick Bland stated,  “These two properties are distinguished by their architecture and share a great history of education and social reform in Brooklyn”.

Council Member Brad Lander stated, “The beautiful historic nature of many of the buildings in Carroll Gardens is one reason why so many people love living in the neighborhood, and these buildings…reflect the rich history of the neighborhood”.

“With this designation, we are reminded of the powerful historical meaning retained in these two sites”, said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez.

“The distinct architecture and history of the two buildings enhance the uniqueness of the Carroll Gardens Community. Preserving these two buildings is the right way to connect our city to its past as we continue to move forward,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.


By: Viktoriya Gray (Viktoriya is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018.)



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