Landmarks Holds Public Hearing for Proposed Linden Street Historic District in Bushwick

Part of the proposed Linden Street Historic District. Image Credit: LPC.

On February 28, 2023, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing for the proposed Linden Street Historic District, located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The proposed district consists of 32 brick and brownstone row houses located from 3 through 13 Linden Street on the south side of the street and 15 through 55 Linden Street on the north side of the street between Bushwick Avenue and Broadway. The proposed historic district would be the first in Bushwick.

The row houses were constructed between 1885 and 1901 by several Brooklyn architects and depict a variety of architectural styles. Several houses were developed by Samuel M. Meeker, a lawyer and founder of Williamsburgh Savings Bank. Frank Keith Irving, an architect, designed the ten Queen Anne-style row houses closest to Bushwick Avenue. These houses, built in 1888, have decorative terra cotta panels, stained glass transom windows, and the end house has a mansard roof and pedimented attic windows. 

Several adjacent houses were built in the neo-Greek style, designed by Edward F. Gaylor in 1885. These houses have incised-lintel designs with tall stoops and decorative ironwork. Near Broadway, there are three brownstones with projecting bays and Renaissance Revival-style details. These homes were designed by Benjamin Finksieper in 1901. Another 11 Renaissance Revival style homes were developed in 1894 by Charles E. Palmer. These homes have rusticated brownstone facades, alternating angled bays and nice front yards. 

While the houses in the proposed historic district have a variety of details, they share common traits like height, color, materials, recessed entries, decorative cornices, and fenestration patterns along the facades. While minor repairs have been done to replace doors, windows or metalwork, the houses have good integrity of their original construction and visually compliment each other. 

The houses also represent a time of Bushwick’s growth. Bushwick is one of the original six towns in Brooklyn chartered by the Dutch in 1661. Over the 18th and early 19th century, much of Brooklyn remained underdeveloped, with small towns and roadways and farmland. Bushwick became part of the city of Brooklyn in 1854. When the Broadway elevated train service opened in the late 1880s, it allowed for a rapid expansion for areas like Bushwick. Over a decade, row houses were developed over the area, and this block of Linden Street is one of the first areas that were developed with masonry houses that still remains intact today. 

Several people testified at the public hearing. Lucie Levine of the Historic Districts Council spoke in support of the application, stating that the proposed historic district is a “standout block” and encouraged the Landmarks Preservation Commission to continue to explore additional significant architectural and cultural sites in Bushwick. 

Kelly Carroll, an advisor to the Bushwick Historic Preservation Association, also testified in support of the designation by praising the architectural features and details of the row house. She also talked about how the designation is a cumulation of efforts for a decade to preserve the area. Carroll also encouraged Landmarks to consider the designation of two apartment buildings on the block. 

Deborah Hicks, a resident of Linden Street, spoke in support of the designation and shared her love for the block she has called home for decades. Alan Gamboa, another resident, supported the preservation of the block but shared a concern about limits from Landmarks on the installation of solar paneling or other green infrastructure in designated buildings or districts. Laura Paris, a resident and member of the Bushwick Historic Preservation Association, supported the designation and was excited to see Bushwick get the attention of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Additional residents and preservation advocates spoke in support of the designation, and Landmarks received five letters in support. 

Erik Nilsen, a Bushwick resident and member of Open New York, a housing advocacy group, testified in opposition to the designation, as he believed that during an ongoing housing crisis citywide it was unconscionable to limit development in an area that is close to a commercial and transit hub. 

Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll addressed the concerns about solar panels, stating that Landmarks does approve the installation of solar panels and that the majority of applications for the installation of solar panels in row houses are approved at the staff level. The applications that aren’t approved at the staff level go before the full commission to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. According to Carroll, the Commission has “wholeheartedly embraced the idea of solar panels” and found ways to approve the installation of panels that don’t take away from the architectural features of a protected building. She encouraged building owners with concerns to reach out to the agency.  

Landmarks will vote to designate at a later date. 

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)

LPC: Linden Street Historic District, LP-2665 (February 28, 2023).


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