Covetable Carriage Houses

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MY POST THE OTHER DAY about a mews alley in Cobble Hill re-opened my eyes to the 19th century carriage houses that still exist in Brooklyn — not in great abundance, which makes those that remain all the more special.

The yellow one, top, on Sidney Place in Brooklyn Heights, probably belonged to some wealthy individual who lived in one of the oversized brownstones on the block.

There’s a concentration of large carriage houses along Vanderbilt Avenue in Clinton Hill, below, a major thoroughfare now as it was in the 1870s or ’80s, when these were most likely built. I’m guessing the larger ones on Vanderbilt were the equivalent of commercial garages or bus depots.

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Off Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, on Nevins and Bond Streets, there are a few carriage houses of simple design, of a piece with the pre-Civil War brickfront row houses there.

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Here’s one of my longtime favorites, below. It’s on Pacific Street between Court and Clinton Streets in Cobble Hill. There are half a dozen carriage houses/garages on that same block, right off Atlantic Avenue, a busy omnibus route in the 19th century.

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About cara

I blog for fun at https://casacara.wordpress.com, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
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20 Responses to Covetable Carriage Houses

  1. Terry says:

    There is one, just one I think, in Atlanta and I’m in love with it. I wish we had a few from neighborhood. Thanks for the pictures.

  2. cara says:

    Why is that, Terry? I can understand there not being anything left of pre-Civil War Atlanta, but there must have been carriage houses in the latter part of the 19th century. Have they all been demolished, d’ya think?

  3. Amanda says:

    That third photo (407 Vanderbilt Ave on the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill border), believe it or not, is actually brand new. According to a real estate broker who live a few houses away.

  4. cara says:

    hi Amanda. I find that hard to believe. If it’s new, they managed to reproduce the look of late 20th century “remuddling” with what looks like an awkwardly bricked-up window on the right hand side. I can’t imagine why they’d go to the trouble and expense of that brick cornice detail on top and then make that right-hand half of the building so UGLY! You sure you’re not talking about the middle pic of the three on Vanderbilt, with the mansard roof? That I could almost believe is very artful, very expensive new construction with the look of old.

  5. Vanderbilt says:

    407 is totally new. Saw it constructed with my own eyes. Grew up on Pacific street next to 172, the white house at the bottom–a real beauty.

  6. Robert says:

    I live in a carriage house in NJ. It’s old all right but not particularly cute like the ones in Brooklyn.

  7. Amanda says:

    I am talking about the photo before that one.

  8. Cher@NR says:

    LOOOOVE carriage houses! They are redoing some in Newburgh currently as well. But I would love to live in one. They are all gorgeous!

  9. Terry says:

    Yes, that one at 407 Vanderbilt, which is next door to my vet, is brand new. The ones to the left and right of it are in fact period. They did do a pretty good job of recreating the look though.

  10. Tom says:

    We lived on Vanderbilt Avenue right across from several. Clinton Avenue is mansion row, and most of the carriage houses (on Vanderbilt and Waverly) were private horse barns and servants quarters for the mansions–some of the properties still connect to their Clinton Ave. houses. Some of the carriage houses were larger and were owned and used by multiple families. Although some of the mansions are gone, most of the carriage houses remain. It’s a fascinating part of 19th Century design. Will suburban 3-car garages be the carriage houses of the future?!

  11. Peter says:

    No tour of Brooklyn carriage houses is complete without a visit to the 3 dead-end streets of BrooklynHeights which are LINED with carriage houses: Hunts Lane, College Place and best of all… Grace Court Alley. Check them out when the snow is gone, you won’t be sorry.

  12. cara says:

    OK, people, thanks for keeping me on my toes. This old-house expert will look more carefully from now on. I won’t get fooled again by new construction! But damn, that’s good. Tom, thanks for the logical explanation for the large carriage houses on Vanderbilt. Peter, I will definitely do a post on the Heights mews you mentioned. I know them well. Almost rented on Hunts Lane once, but it was just too tiny, a real doll house. Welcome back, Amanda, and welcome for the first time to all new commenters. Stick around and let me know what you’d like to see.

  13. BrandonH says:

    There is a row of five carriage houses on Hicks between Joralemon & State in Brooklyn Heights. Wow, are those charming! Two of those carriage houses have cobble stone and slate sidewalks in front that give them a charming 19th century look. Check out the street view on Google:

    http://tinyurl.com/6elqhko

    It is rare for carriage houses to come on the market. People who own them seem to pass them down to the next generation. Occasionally, one will hit the market and they usually sell at a premium. They’re not only “cute” and “charming,” but many have that most coveted of things in NYC: an in-door parking spot.

  14. cara says:

    hi Brandon, welcome. You’re so right about the Hicks Street row (I think one of them is a fire station?) and the sales premium on carriage houses. Charm equals money, apparently!

  15. ell says:

    The one on Sidney Place was originally used to garage hearses for the funeral home around the corner on Atlantic off Henry

  16. cara says:

    Interesting! Thanks for that tidbit, ell.

  17. ell says:

    tidbits ‘r wonderful. here’s another about one of the Hicks St houses Brandon mentions. It was recently auctioned by Kings County. The late owner also owned the beauty that is now the restord 135 Joralemon St. i haven’t seen much activity yet at the Hicks St house.

  18. BrandonH says:

    Cara, the firehouse makes that spot even more charming, IMHO. It’s a beautiful building just to the north of the row of five carriage houses. I always love walking down that street because there is a certain feeling of nostalgia evoked by that row of carriage houses and also the firehouse. It has a real human scale feeling to it.

  19. Hills says:

    Love that one with the red door! One night I stopped on my bike and walked backward just to get a better look and totally lost my footing and fell on top of my bike – it was worth the injury!

  20. I have loved the carriage houses in these neighborhoods forever. They are truly amazing. Loved your photos. There’s one on Love Lane in Brooklyn Heights which is new but constructed to look old and you’d think it was 100 years old.

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