Building a Home in BrooklynIngrid Spencer
An urban center like New York City, with its varied old neighborhoods, cobblestone streets, and eclectic architectural styles, can set the mind to wondering what different incarnations buildings have been through over the past couple centuries. The remarkable history behind one particular building in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood exemplifies just how extreme that progression can be. According to architect Philippe Baumann, whose firm Baumann Architecture recently renovated the Brooklyn home for a couple and their two children, the place has been through a series of transformations since it was built 120 years ago. "The building started as a carriage house," says Baumann, "and then became a storefront grocery for many years. In 1960 a jet turbine from a United Airlines plane crashed through the roof, and in the early 1970s it was part of a neighborhood rejuvenation called 'Cinderella II' sponsored by a gas company. It then became a rental property, the Reverend Al Sharpton's Brooklyn political headquarters, and was home to a Hollywood screenwriter. It has definitely had a colorful history."
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