Landmarks Designates Willoughby-Hart Historic District in Brooklyn

Homes in the Willoughby-Hart Historic District. Image Credit: NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

On June 25, 2024, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated two blocks of late-19th century row houses lining Willoughby Avenue and Hart Street between Nostrand and Marcy Avenues in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn as the Willoughby-Hart historic district. There are almost 50 buildings within the district.

Willoughby-Hart Historic District is comprised of buildings designed in neo-Grec style faced in brownstone, Second Empire houses with mansard roofs, and Queen Anne/Romanesque Revival houses. Nearly all the houses were designed by architect Isaac D. Reynolds. Other architects involved include Thomas McKee and J.W. Parkin.

During the mid-17th century, the area of the historic district was known as Cripplebush Road, which connected the settlement of Bedford Corners to Newtown in Queens. By 1855, large-scale development commenced, and the surrounding areas were annexed into greater New York City. Between 1871 and 1891, the previous farmland landscape was transformed by rapid residential development resulting in rows of houses lining the streets to accommodate the growing community. The earliest residents were middle-class German immigrants, followed by a large Russian Jewish population. By the 1950’s and 60’s Bedford-Stuyvesant continued to grow into the largest Black community in New York.

Landmarks voted unanimously to designate the Willoughby-Hart Historic District.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “The impressive historic row houses which line the blocks of Willoughby and Hart make this newest historic district an architectural highlight within the greater Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Today’s vote recognizes the district’s distinctive beauty and unique history, and ensures this special section of Brooklyn will be preserved for generations to come.”

New York State Senator Jabari Brisport stated, “Rapid development and the ensuing gentrification have eroded the architecture and history of Bed Stuy, and communities are fighting back to preserve our neighborhood’s legacy. I am proud to stand with community activists as they tell us that ‘community can’t be demolished!”

New York State Assemblymember Stefani Zinerman stated, “Landmarking Willoughby and Hart is crucial to the preservation of our community and will help inoculate us from the devastating impact of deed theft that has decimated Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. Landmarking ensures that the legacy and contributions of homeowners and long-term tenants will be honored and carried forward for future generations.”

By: Chelsea Ramjeawan (Chelsea is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2025.)




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