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PHOTOS: See Inside Historic Homes That Were Once Water Towers and Factories

By Janet Upadhye | February 25, 2015 7:39am
 Historic homes in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill have been converted from stables, seminaries, churches, factories and firehouses.
Fort Greene Homes that Used to be Something Else
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BROOKLYN — At one point they were water towers, churches and even stables.

Now many call them home.

Fort Greene and Clinton Hill have experienced an influx of new housing developments, but the neighborhoods also have retained some of their historic charm, in part thanks to unique, century-old structures that have been converted into homes.

The repurposed buildings that are now desirable addresses include a longtime National Guard armory at 171 Clermont Ave. and a 100-year-old former furniture warehouse at 139 Emerson Place.

At 555 Washington Ave., the former seminary for Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception, buyers are drawn to the historic relics that remain, including Gothic gargoyles and cathedral-style archways, realtors say.

Real estate agent Dwayne Powell of Corcoran said it's the details that make these homes so desirable.

“These repurposed homes are so sought after because they are unique and the architectural significance of these places is beyond anything else out there,” he said. “They will never be replicated again — what you have with these old churches, warehouses and factories is the old feel with contemporary additions.”

Residents say they value the intrigue of the buildings' past lives.

Social worker Rebecca Rubin, 34, who lives in a former chocolate factory on Park Avenue, said she loves to share the building's history with visitors.

Jeff Johnson, 33, who works in tech and also lives in the building, where Tootsie Rolls were once made, said it's the historic details that make it special.

"I tend to love the feeling I get waking up in the morning staring at the wood ceilings and beams from the original 1890s factory," he said. "It's the most unique space I've lived in New York."

DNAinfo New York rounded up a list of some of the historic homes in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill that used to be something else.

171 Clermont Ave.

Built in 1872, this former armory housed the 23rd Regiment of the National Guard, a unit that had fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. The building had a large drill hall where the National Guard would practice maneuvers and also host club dinners and meetings, according to the building’s website.

The city bought the building in 1964 and used it as a warehouse until 1986, when it was robbed by thieves who took all the building’s valuables — including the oak paneling and fireplace mantels. Developers purchased it in 1995 in a public auction and converted it to 110 residential units that hit the market in 2000, according to the website.

139 Emerson Place

This 100-year-old former furniture warehouse is now 50 loft-style apartments, according to The New York Times.

The units are expansive with exposed brick and wooden beams, and large windows that look out onto Pratt Institute. There are also four penthouse apartments that share a roof deck.

555 Washington Ave.

This Gothic-style structure was built in 1914 and once served as home to the seminary for Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception. The building has gargoyles, cathedral-style details and was converted to a 53-unit condominium in 1988, according to StreetEasy.

The ground-level apartment is currently on sale for $795,000 and features a private yard, archway entrance and 14-foot vaulted ceilings, according to Halstead Property.

124 DeKalb Ave.

Built in the early 1900s, this longtime firehouse — originally a water tower — served as home to Engine 256.

It was also a civil defense bomb shelter before director Spike Lee housed his production company there for more than 20 years.

It was recently converted into two loft apartments, according to Halstead Property, and is on sale for $5 million.

159 Carlton Ave.

The former Feuchtwanger Stables, built in 1888, once housed horses of the neighborhood's wealthiest families, according to Anderson Associates, developers that converted the building to condos.

The large entry doors allowed horses and carriages to come and go. When horses went out of style as modes of transport, the building was used a candy factory, a storage warehouse and even an auto garage before it was renovated to loft condominiums in 1988.

275 Park Ave.

Built in 1890, this warehouse was once a Tootsie Roll factory and later home to the Von Glahn Brothers, who manufactured canned goods. Rockwood & Co. Chocolate Company later made candy in the building from 1907 to 1967, according to the Chocolate Factory website.

The Chocolate Factory is now filled with residential loft units that feature exposed brick, cement-and-wood living spaces and a spa, restaurant and grocery store on the ground floor.

232 Adelphi St.

This Gothic Revival structure built in 1888 served as home to an Episcopal congregation for more than 100 years before it was sold in 2001.

The property then changed hands several times, but was bought by 231 Carlton Avenue LLC in 2011 for $4.1 million, Property Shark reported.

The new owners partially demolished the landmarked church and are erecting five two-family townhouses, dubbed Carlton Mews Townhouses, in its place. The homes went on sale earlier this year.