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Wooden Homes Get Some Love in Brownstone Brooklyn

By Janet Upadhye | May 7, 2013 7:48am
 The Wooden House Project says these Waverly Avenue homes "are dripping with texture and history."
Brooklyn's Historic Wooden Homes
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CLINTON HILL — One woman is determined to prove that there's more to Brooklyn architecture than the ubiquitous brownstone.

Preservation consultant Elizabeth Finkelstein enjoys "scouring Brooklyn’s streets in search of fragile remnants from a lost time," and ended up falling in love with the borough's wood-frame row houses.

"Wooden homes have a compelling and unique architectural character," she said. "And so many have survived even though their construction was outlawed in Brooklyn over 100 years ago because of fire laws."

In the hopes of giving some recognition to the understated homes, Finkelstein started a blog called The Wooden House Project where she highlights some of Brooklyn's greatest timber treasures.

And two of her favorites are in Clinton Hill. The clapboard-sided houses on Waverly Avenue are hard to miss in a sea of brick and brownstone.

"I dare you to walk by and not do a double-take," Finkelstein wrote on her blog.

Built in the 1840s, these two twin structures were once home to a Union officer during the Civil War and are among the oldest homes in Clinton Hill, according to Finkelstein. She was recently allowed to take a look inside.

"These houses are dripping with texture and history," she wrote. "This is definitely one of those 'I’m not in New York' kinds of places."

Another house that caught Finkelstein's eyes is on 122 Pacific St. in Cobble Hill. The wooden home has been covered by a stucco facade since 1922 but on May 14 the Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on a proposal to restore it to the original grey-blue wood exterior.

"Cobble Hill’s oldest house is about to come out of hiding!" she wrote. "This is the kind of news that makes my geek heart skip a beat."

Finkelstein hopes that her much-loved wooden homes are making a comeback.

"My dream is to one day see a long row of restored wooden porches in Brooklyn," she said.