Saturday, December 11, 2010

More New Work (2 of 2)

Image 1 - When built in the 1870s as one of a row of identical speculative brownstones, this building on East 67th St. had an obligatory high stoop, elaborate cornice, and heavy stone window surrounds. It was probably altered sometime between the late 1930s and the 1950s. The alteration is an example of the worst thing that could happen to an old brownstone house - all architectural detail stripped away in the name of "modernism." Smooth surfaces don't age well in urban environments. What somebody once envisioned as "clean" and "uncluttered" usually winds up looking shopworn and just plain dirty.

Image 2 - This house, located a few doors to the east of Image 1, was originally identical to it. Sonewhere along the line - probably when the last single family moved out and it was converted to apartments - it lost its high stoop. In recent years, it's become a private house again, had its facade beautifully restored and a new high stoop constructed to replace the missing original.

Image 3 - Here's a closer look at the stoop, which should be compared to the one on 64th St. Someone's heart was in the right place but the proportions - of the stair itself and of the front door - are not successful.

Image 4 - The facade restorer really did a beautiful job, at least from the standpoint of workmanship.

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