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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.
THE BRITISH UPPER CLASSES and Russian aristocracy, in search of sun, made the city of Nice, on France’s Mediterranean coast, their winter playground in the late 19th century. Most of the city’s pale or pastel-colored buildings date from that Belle Époque and from the Art Deco era, and there are few contemporary ones, giving its boulevards and squares a historic grandeur that distinguishes Nice from other beach resorts.
I came to Nice primarily to revisit a city I had fond memories of from thirty years ago. That’s proving a tough act to follow. Nice has 300 days a year of sunshine, so they say, but the past couple have not been among them. I arrived in a downpour late Sunday, by train from Arles, and checked into the two-star B&B-type lodging I’d booked months ago, based on rave reviews on Trip Advisor. Don’t believe them, and don’t go by the pictures, which make it look more charming than it is. The Nice Garden Hotel is dreary, depressing and threadbare. After an uncomfortable night, I spent Monday morning looking for an alternative.
That took me in and out of several faded grand dames, above, along the Promenade des Anglais, which had rooms available but which were either too expensive (Negresco, Westminster) or too embalmed-feeling (Le Royal, which was great from the outside, stuffy within), or both. I ended up at the New York Times-recommended four-star Villa Victoria, below, on Boulevard Victor Hugo, and made the switch.
Ensconced now in much greater luxury (still for a reasonable 90 euros — only 15 more per night than the other — including breakfast and every possibly amenity, even female-sized terry cloth slippers and a pencil with a red rhinestone on it), I took in my first Nice museum, the Villa Massena, below, an over-the-top gilded private palace built in 1898, which the city has recently restored.
The second floor galleries, with costumes and paintings of the city in its Belle Époque heyday (below, an amusement pier that extended into sea but no longer exists) interested me more than the sumptuous decor.
Monday is the antiques market in Nice’s Vieux Ville (Old City), below. It’s a serious market, akin to Paris’, but I’m so over all that. There isn’t a poster or a piece of costume jewelry or a Quimper plate that I could rouse myself to buy these days. But it was fun to look at objects, people and, of course, buildings.
Matisse lived in the yellow house, above.
For lunch, of all the many cafes lining both sides of Vieux Ville’s main drag, Cours Saleya, I chose Le Safari, below. It was bustling, warm (outdoor heaters), and smelled pleasantly of mussels and the other seafood for which Nice is known.
While my first salad Niçoise in Nice, above, was ‘meh’ (unripe tomatoes), the people at the next table more than made up for it. An amusing British couple who come to Nice often and know its environs intimately, from the best patisserie to which buses to take to get to which gardens, I thoroughly enjoyed my first extended conversation in days. It continued when they invited me for drinks at the apartment they’re renting in a classic Niçoise building not far from my hotel. Drinks turned into a dinner spread, below (smoked salmon, quail eggs, exquisite cheeses) and I now have personal travel consultants for the rest of my stay.
All of Nice’s twenty famous museums, including the Matisse and Chagall Museums in the Cimiez neighborhood, are closed on Tuesday, and the weather, though drier, is still gray. I’m heading to Ephrussi de Rothschild’s quirky garden in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a half-hour bus ride away.
EVERYONE SEEMS TO HAVE LOVED The Outsider last Sunday (41 comments!) It’s one a member of the Brownstoner community sent in — simple, family-friendly, and on a shoestring budget. To take a look at the befores and afters, go here.
THIS PRACTICALLY ZERO-BUDGET vegetable garden was created in a neglected Brooklyn lot this spring by resourceful architect Andrea Solk and friends.
Everything was salvaged and improvised; most veggies were started from seed.
Read all about it on Brownstoner today.