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ASK MY KIDS, they’ll tell you: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, is a great place to grow up. Especially on Verandah Place, the most coveted block in perhaps the most charming neighborhood in brownstone Brooklyn. It’s a row of mid-19th century brick carriage and mews houses, with a vest-pocket park right across the street and a highly regarded public elementary school two blocks away. Never was there a better street for skateboarding or jumping rope; car traffic is minimal. The river, the harbor and Brooklyn Bridge Park are a few blocks away; so are the best Middle Eastern and Italian groceries you’ll find in NYC.
And how often does a four-story, five bedroom, three bath townhouse with a great garden come up for rent on Verandah Place, especially one that’s just undergone a two-month spiffing up from top to bottom? Not often, let me tell you. If I could afford it, I’d live there myself (and did, for 20 years), but right now, it’s for rent, with a long lease possible.
Our 1850s townhouse is bright and ridiculously charming, full of simple details that characterize its classic architecture: original cove moldings, four-panel doors, rare black marble fireplaces (two working) and harmonious, perfectly square rooms.
Live there, work there — the garden level would lend itself beautifully to use as a studio or professional office, or as a guest suite, play or media room.
The entire house is freshly painted, with newly refinished floors. The kitchen has custom cabinets, honed granite countertop, Sub-Zero fridge and Viking stove next to a large dining room with wood-burning fireplace.
But why take my word for it? Have a look at my many photos, below. The official listing is here. Check out the professional photos on the realtor’s site (especially if you want to see the park across the street and the formal parlor — I seem to have forgotten to take a picture of it), or contact me at caramia447 (at) gmail (dot) com for further details.
P.S. Scroll all the way down to read some quirky factoids I’ve pulled together about Six Verandah Place and its location.
Parlor floor entry. Stairs go down to studio/garden level. Library/den to left, formal parlor ahead to left, beyond classical columns.
Library, den, media room, what have you. 15’x15′. Closet to right, double entry doors.
Come on in to parlor/living room. Door straight ahead leads to wrought iron balcony down to garden.
Major gap here: The photos above show just one angle on a 15’x22′ room with a marble mantel and two six-over-six windows overlooking the garden. Now up we go to the second floor…
Room straight ahead can be used as study or small bedroom. Overlooks garden. I wrote many a magazine article there.
View from dining room into hallway. Staircase, of course, original.
Dining room. About 15’x18′. Marble fireplace burns wood. Knoll credenza stays.
Bathroom on second floor has stall shower, washer/dryer, window overlooking street.
Coming up to top floor landing…
Master bedroom has skylight, arched windows, two closets, overlooks garden, rooftops.
2nd top floor bedroom.
3rd top floor bedroom.
Top floor bathroom with deep soaking tub.
Oh, wait! There’s another whole floor downstairs, on the garden level… and a full storage basement below that.
Two room studio can be used for myriad purposes. Guest suite, playroom, teen hangout, professional office. Another access to garden.
Garden-level bathroom has full tub, 1940s green tile.
Private garden with slate patio.
THE LORE OF SIX VERANDAH PLACE
- The house is pre-Civil War, built in the mid-1850s.
- It has more original interior detail than any other on the block (and I’ve been in most of them). That includes 4 marble mantels, cove moldings on the parlor floor, and the staircase/balusters. The ornate fixture in the front entry hall was once a gas fixture and is original to the house.
- Legend has it that the house is part of a row of five, all built by one gentleman on Warren Street for his five daughters and their families. These were not carriage houses, though there are several on the block; they were always one-family houses.
- The house is backwards! (That may be true of the whole row of five.) What is now the front facade of the house was originally the rear facade. If you stand in the garden and look up, you see its full size.
- The house is backwards probably because access was from Warren or Henry Street. There must have been an opening or possibly a road that ran through what is now the back garden in the 19th century.
- The rear parlor (living room) was originally the front parlor. We opened up the hallway and inserted the columns (which are salvaged porch columns) in the late 1980s, shortly after we bought the house.
- We also raised the ceilings on the top floor in the two back bedrooms (when we bought the house, those two rooms were an attic you couldn’t stand up in) and added the three arched windows.
- The kitchen dates from 2000. Cabinetry is custom maple, and the appliances (Viking, Bosch, Sub-Zero, etc.) have all been professionally refurbished.
- Cobble Hill Park became a park in the 1950s. Prior to that there was a church there, and Verandah Place was gated. The church was torn down, and a supermarket was set to go up in its place. The community objected, and the park was created. The sandbox is centered on a unique concrete dolphin that has been there since the ’50s and was preserved in a 1989 park renovation.
Want more info? Email me: caramia447 (at) gmail (dot) com.
IT BEGAN when my daughter moved into a Prospect Heights brownstone with a struggling pine tree in a barrel out front. Each time I visited, I eyed the dead branches, wishing I could take a pruner to the thing and tidy it up. One day, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I told her, “I’m going to prune that pine. If your landlord says anything, tell him your mother is an itinerant urban gardener who goes around pruning people’s shrubs unbidden.”
While my East Hampton house is rented out, I’ve been getting my gardening jollies catching up on maintenance in the yards of my buildings in Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill. I ride around with a wooden box of garden tools in the back of my car — a hand rake, lopper, pruner, shovel, gloves, trash bags. When the urge to garden strikes, I’m ready. But I can see how this could get out of hand. Last week, I was walking along a Park Slope sidewalk and saw a lovely Japanese maple in a cobalt pot in someone’s front yard. It was full of weeds. My fingers itched to reach over the iron fence and pull them out, but I restrained myself. One recent morning, in Philadelphia to visit my son, I went out in my pajamas at 7AM and pulled 2-foot-tall weeds out of cracks in the sidewalk in front of his building … and the building next door.
Soon, I’ll have my half-acre to play with. In the meantime, I stealth-garden on other people’s property and enjoy what they’re doing with their window boxes, tree pits and containers. They’re doing a lot; it’s an encouraging sign of the times.
Below: March of the pots, a trend I’ve spotted this year for the first time. This is good news. In decades past, they might well have been stolen.
Above: Window box explosion in Philadelphia’s Queen Village neighborhood. Below: Ivy and seasonal containers decorate a carriage house in Old Kensington.
Below: Orange cosmos and white gaura have burst through the iron fence around this apartment building in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, seeding themselves in cracks in the sidewalk.
Below: A proudly tended Brooklyn tree pit with petunias and variegated hosta.
Beach plums in bloom
STEAMING TOWARD A MOVE-IN DATE of this Friday at my new/old house in East Hampton, N.Y. Yes, I know it doesn’t look move-in ready, and the fact is, I still don’t have water. But that’s my goal. The phantom plumber was supposed to come yesterday to hook up a couple of fairly important items, including a toilet, but he was sick. Fingers crossed for today.
I had two satisfyingly productive days recently. On Sunday afternoon, I put a coat of primer on the plywood floor in the dining/sitting room, above and below, soon to be covered by floor paint, probably white. Quick way to make the place feel cleaner and brighter.
This first required the painstaking removal of hundreds of carpet staples, most with tufts of carpet stuck to them, a prospect that had been hanging me up for weeks. My daughter got to it last week with a pair of pliers, enabling the operation to proceed, and for that I am very grateful.
I spent almost all day Monday cleaning the house as best I could without H2O. That was a rather non-green operation involving broom and dustpan, the vac, Swiffers both dry and wet, spray cleaner, and lots and lots of paper towels. I won’t be happy until I get my rubber gloves into a bucket of hot soapy water, but it helped.
While I worked inside, Eric the tree man buzzed and chipped outside, removing tree limbs and a couple of whole trees near the house that posed a danger of falling. It’s not a dramatic change, but to me, the space in front of the house feels more open and airy. (Don’t go by these iPhone shots. I keep saying the place looks brighter, while the photos look terribly dim.)
The kitchen floor, below — 18″x18″ charcoal gray tiles — has been laid and will be grouted today.
This was the inspiration photo for the floor tiles:
The stove and fridge are being delivered later this week.
The contractor built a wooden base for a deep two-basin kitchen sink top that was left behind in the shed, below, following a magazine picture I showed him. I think it came out better than the picture.
Then I’ll have to say goodbye to all my helpers for a while and forge on alone for the next couple of months. The coffers have run dry, and all incoming funds will be going toward fix-ups at our mews house in Brooklyn. <–That link is to a four-year-old post; the rent has gone up. If interested, contact me at caramia447@gmail. The longtime renters are leaving, and the place requires attention and an infusion of cash.
By the way, anyone need a 9-1/2 foot long liquid propane tank, bottom? Once used to heat a now-disappeared swimming pool, it sits in the parking area like a beached submarine. I got a $4,000 estimate to take it away, so it won’t be leaving any time soon. It’s not in my way, but neither do I anticipate any future use for it. Do I have any takers?