Wallabout, Brooklyn’s Pre-Civil War Neighborhood, Earns Historic Designation

04/12/2011 8:56 AM |

Two historic homes one renovated, one not on Vanderbilt Avenue.

  • Two historic homes (one renovated, one not) on Vanderbilt Avenue.

The beautiful blocks between Myrtle Avenue and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on either side of the BQE in the micro-neighborhood known as Wallabout, feature the city’s greatest concentration of pre-Civil War wood frame homes, 50 of which were finally added to the New York State Register of Historic Places last month.

Crain’s reports that the buildings included in the designation, many of which were nearly bulldozed in the 70s, are all along Vanderbilt Avenue between Myrtle and Park, but there are plans to have more of the historic area protected.

A group of local residents have been lobbying for decades to have the buildings—built in the 1800s as housing for immigrant workers—designated. The neighborhood, named “Wallabout” (meaning “bend in the harbor”) by Dutch settlers, features many more buildings in need of preservation. The designation provides homeowners with “state and federal restoration tax credits, as well as grants and technical assistance” for the refurbishing and maintenance of historically significant buildings.

But this is just the start. Other pre-Civil War wood-framed homes on adjacent streets—Clinton, Clermont and Waverly avenues in particular—merit similar designation and protection:

Now, residents are gearing up for the next campaigns: to have Wall-about designated a New York City Landmark District and to have it listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which would offer far more protection for the neighborhood’s buildings.

Given how long the initial campaign took (about three decades), who knows how long that might take—especially considering Brooklyn’s current preservation policies. But this initial designation gives the neighborhood’s cause some momentum. Colonial re-enactments must be right around the corner. (Curbed)