Recently renovated in parts but needing work in others, this Crown Heights semi-detached offers some original interior details, a bit of an architectural pedigree and a project for those looking for an old house reno. The Colonial Revival-style two-family at 817 Prospect Place, just a short stroll from Brower Park, sits within the Crown Heights North II Historic District on a stretch of street that was co-named for trailblazer Dr. Susan Smith McKinney-Steward.
The designation report attributes the house and its two matching neighbors to busy Brooklyn architect Axel Hedman on the strength of two nearly identical houses further down the block being verifiably by Hedman. Records show that the pair were built by David E. Morris in 1907. A bit of digging shows that Morris and wife Jessie were living at No. 817 by 1908, giving credence to Morris as the owner and builder and Hedman as the architect of the house. Morris lived at No. 817 until his death in 1914.
In 1908, Morris advertised two of his Prospect Place houses in the New York Times, describing them as American basement homes with 13 rooms, two bathrooms, parquet floors, hardwood trim, electric lights and a location “in the choice section of the Bedford district.”
The red brick, three-story No. 817 still has its defining exterior details, including a columned porch, quoining, pilasters on the upper stories, an oriel window and a dentilled cornice.
It has been a two-family since at least 1965, an I-card shows, with a lower duplex and apartment above. Going by the listing photos, the recent updates started on the top floor, where the two-bedroom apartment has a renovated kitchen and bath, but didn’t quite reach the parlor level.
That parlor level has a formal front parlor, a central hall parlor with a stair, a dining room and a kitchen at the rear of the floor. There is plenty of original woodwork on display, including floors, wainscoting and the staircase. In the dining room, woodwork includes a columned mantel, coffered ceiling and wainscoting with plate shelf that was so popular at the time. Much of the woodwork, particularly in the dining room, appears to be in various stages of refinishing, so there is some work to be done.
In the kitchen, there is opportunity for a complete overhaul for a better layout in the windowed space. As is there is a linoleum floor and wood cabinets.
Upstairs are three bedrooms and one full bath. Here the refinishing of the woodwork is complete and the bathroom was renovated with a soaking tub, walk-in shower and black and white tile.
How practical the third floor apartment would be to use as a rental is questionable as the only staircase would have a renter accessing the unit via the middle parlor of the duplex. More likely the unit could serve as a family or guest suite, with the largest room used as a living area. There are also two small bedrooms, including one with an exposed brick wall, and a full bath with a claw foot tub. The petite renovated kitchen has white bead board cabinets, a white subway tile backsplash and an exposed brick wall.
There is a bit of garden at front and a quite narrow rear yard with a line of shrubbery along one side and trees at the rear.
The property last changed family hands in the 1990s, although it was on the market in 2019 and again earlier this year for $1.75 million. Now listed with Vladimir Baron of JB Mac Real Estate, the asking price is set at $2 million. Worth it?