A former carriage house in New York City’s first historic district will see an addition extant for about 80 years disappear in favor of one that is mostly out of sight. The Landmarks Preservation Commission recently approved the work at 276 Hicks Street, in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.
The two-story structure, currently a private home, is located between State and Joralemon streets. It was designed by Walter I. Halliday and built in 1927. A highly visible angled skylight was added to the front of the house in the 1930s. 276 Hicks Street fell under the LPC’s jurisdiction with the designation of the historic district in 1965.
Now, the owner wants to add a bedroom and has hired Boerum Hill-based architect Jill Bouratoglou. The alterations will include removal of the inoperable skylight, insertion of two smaller skylights over bedrooms on the second floor at the front of the home, the construction of a single-story addition atop the middle of the home, and the construction of a two-story stairway at the rear of that addition. A railed-in terrace will be in front of the single-story addition and a hatch from one of two skylights in the new stairway will allow roof access.
Additionally, the garage door will be restored, cleaned, and painted. The front foor will also be cleaned and receive glazing.
Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron said retention of the extant skylight would have been good, but its removal is also acceptable. Commissioner Diana Chapin agreed, as did Commissioner Jeanne Lutfy, who described the proposed work as “very sensitive to the surrounding area.”
LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said the work will be “a bit of a trade off.” The extant addition has been a fixture since not long after the carriage house’s construction, but its removal, she said, will bring some unity to the streetscape.
Brooklyn Community Board 2 approved of the proposal, but the Historic Districts Council called for the retention of the skylight. “276 Hicks is one of a few charming carriage houses remaining in historic Brooklyn Heights,” testified HDC’s Patrick Waldo. “Its historic alteration of a skylight extension contributes to its layered history and HDC recommends retaining this feature, not removing it.”
Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City said the existing skylight presents a “pleasing asymmetry.” She said there is already enough outdoor space that it should be retained and repaired, instead of removed.
In the end, however, the proposal was unanimously approved as presented on April 25.
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