Gingerly in Brooklyn

75702442The house above, in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, is regarded, according to this piece about the gingerbread on, as New York City’s most charmingly adorable “fairy tale” residence. But it has been sitting on the market, watching its price fall year after year, now down to $10.5 million. What’s wrong? Yes, that’s a lot for most people, but more quotidian houses and condos go for more. The townhouse I wrote about recently by Peter Pennoyer on East 78th has units under contract for similar amounts, even though it’s not even built yet, with the penthouse asking $29 million.

Am I the only one bowled over by the photo above only to be underwhelmed by shots of the interior? It would be considered quite extraordinary an interior for most houses. You approach a mansion of magic but enter only to find a level of luxury that seems the work of a very talented interior designer rather than the “fairy tale” romantic setting that you are expecting. The inside just does not live up to the outside.

DSCN7910Or maybe it’s the neighborhood. I don’t know for Bay Ridge, but every nice neighborhood has its dumpy blocks. What’s next door? When Victoria, Billy (age 5) and I were looking for a house in Providence we found a most enchanting Beaux Arts house whose inside lived fully up to its outside, but which was set on a street of decidedly downmarket single-families – and it was not the best section of Mount Pleasant, and right across from a poorly rated elementary school. We took a pass, and quite sadly, because we loved the house, but in retrospect we doubt that we would have felt happy there.

The Brooklyn gingerbread may be surrounded by places up to all but its most romantic standard. But step inside and, though beautiful, it’s a letdown because it does not have the exterior’s mythic, storybook princess-in-the-tower connotations – which, of course, may not be for everyone. Anyway, that’s how it struck me. Better knock that price down again.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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