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Hello, Loews Kings Flatbush!

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Even though we’re alta kockers, there are plenty of reasons to be grateful about our place in time. Experiencing life as it’s happening is one that I can think of. Not that old people haven’t succumbed to the digital age, but at least when we went to concerts as kids, we were able to enjoy the show instead of recording it.

Remember when going to the movies meant something? It didn’t cost a whole paycheck and the films weren’t on the telly within a week’s time, but that wasn’t the only thing. Theaters were something to behold. A single, huge screen and comfy seats. It was meant to be an escape from your home, not smaller than your living room.


One of those childhood theaters that I can barely remember now was the Loews Kings in Flatbush. It closed down and fell into disrepair in the mid 70’s, but guess what? It’s being restored as a performing arts space and is set to reopen in early 2015.

Check out the fabulous restoration photos and info over at Brooklyn Eagle. It’s ta die faw, Brooklyn!


Tear Down? Think Again.

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This is an impressive resurrection of a Calvert Vaux Beaux Arts home as reported by Newburgh Restoration. Work was completed by architect Drew Kartiganer back in 2002.


Are you ready for the after shot?


Unfortunately, the interior is not all that impressive, but one can’t complain when the house was brought back to life. Check out the work shots and interiors at Newburgh Restoration.

Bungalows For (Almost) Every Borough

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Bungalow Court On The Bay

We all know that The Catskills have their fair share of bungalows, but what about right here in our fair city? Do you know which New York City neighborhoods still have bungalow communities?

The cute block of bungalows above is Shaler Street in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

City Island in The Bronx is more like a quaint seaside village than a Big Apple neighborhood. The two bungalows shown above are for sale. The one on the left is listed with Weichert for $289k and the one on the right is for sale by owner at $355k.

Well, Staten Island HAD an adorable bungalow colony right on the beach, but sadly Cedar Grove has been demolished. Out with the historic old, in with the tacky new…

Rockaway Beach Bungalows, Queens NYC

The bungalows of The Rockaways are probably the best known in the city.

It’s hard to believe, but Manhattan actually has some small single family homes left. I found these Inwood bungalows on Google satellite and was surprised to learn that they are priced under $300k when they go up for sale. Hello next project!

Correction: I confused Inwood, Queens Long Island with Inwood, NYC. 🙁

Lefferts House

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We visited one of the oldest houses in Brooklyn yesterday. The late 1700’s Lefferts House is located in Prospect Park, but did you know that the original location was six blocks away on Flatbush and Maple? And did you know that the 1783 structure was the second Lefferts home to be built after the original 1687 homestead was burned down during the British invasion of 1776?


It’s all good now. The home was donated to the city back before it was moved and has been a museum ever since. It’s a small house by today’s standards so if you visit, don’t expect a full day trip. Bring the kiddies as the Prospect Park Zoo and Carousel are within spittin’ distance.

Suggested admission is a mere $3 for adults.


Landmarking Bedford Corners

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Bedford Stuyvesant is a huge area broken up into a few neighborhoods such as Stuyvesant Heights, Weeksville, Ocean Hill and Bedford.  No, Bedford Corners Historic District is not some new name the realtors just came up with. This part of Bed Stuy exhibits some of the finest architecture in the city but it does need to be preserved.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will be answering questions and discussing the landmarking process of Bedford Corners Historic District this Wednesday, March 21st. This meeting is said to be the deciding factor as to whether or not the area will be receive landmark designation. The community is urged to come out and show it’s support.

If you live in the south west end of Bed Stuy, please join us at the meeting on Wednesday at Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton Street, lower level. 6:30pm.

Preserve Bed Stuy

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This home was listed as having “historic details” on the Craigslist ad. Perhaps they meant the one mirror.

This one goes out to all of the real estate investors, flippers and brokers. Stop the insanity in Bed Stuy! Yes, yes, I’m guilty of looking for an investment property to flip myself. What sets me apart from these bozos is that I aim to preserve the historic value of the home and respect the community. The state of the market in Bed Stuy isn’t suitable for my needs right now because all I’m seeing is crap renovations.

Flashback to six years ago when I was looking for my own place to live here. The beautiful thing about these brownstones was that they had so much detail still intact. During the “do or die” years people weren’t gutting their homes. Now that Bed Stuy is suddenly getting popular, it’s hard to find a place that needs some tender lovin’ care.

The prices aren’t bad for these gut jobs and one can always add detail. The thing is, I would never trust these fast-n-cheap flippers to do the right thing. What do you think is lurking behind those new walls and floors? Do you think they replaced rotting wood and pointed the bricks properly? Maybe. But you never know. I kind of doubt their integrity.

Listen you guys, leave some homes left for those folks who don’t want glossy oak floors and Home Depot light fixtures. Your cookie cutter shite doesn’t cut it with everyone. Seriously, people will pay more for plaster detail than new sheetrock. They’ll pay more for that gorgeous pier mirror and mantel that you’re dumping in the trash. They’ll pay more for the pocket doors that are lying in your dumpster out front.

I know they will. I’m one of those people.

Now run along and rape some other neighborhood with yucky housing stock. I hear that Long Islanders like shiny, new things.

Forgotten Catskills

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Even though The Catskills were severely damaged by Hurricane Irene last year, some parts will bounce back. Areas like Woodstock and Phoenicia are year round vibrant communities that have always remained popular destinations for tourists. But exploring Sullivan County this week was rather shocking.

The Borscht Belt towns have seen more financial devastation and decay than any hurricane could have caused. This isn’t news. I’ve blogged numerous times on photographers capturing images of the old resorts and bungalows, but I had to see it with my own eyes to consider the scope of it.

Main Streets died out with the advent of the malls and the resorts and colonies started losing popularity with the arrival of air travel. The Catskills as my generation knew it still existed well into the 1980’s, but it’s a shell of it’s former self these days.


There may be hope of a revitalization. Post baby boomers like myself have been very excited about the opening of Kutsher’s Restaurant in Tribeca and the preview of the Kutsher’s documentary film was sold out almost instantly. The newish Upstater blog is waxing nostalgic about the area and they’ve proven to be quite popular.

Does this mean The Catskills are coming back? Not quite. It just means there is hope. I’m not the only one whom has had the idea to bring back a modern day bungalow colony for this generation.

Kutsher’s still exists, although it was closed the day we were there. I heard rumors that it’s for sale, but cannot find any news on the current status.

I’ll be posting some colonies that are on the market in the upcoming weeks. They are in bad disrepair, but prices are negotiable. Come on. Let’s do it. Let’s bring back The Catskills!


Landmarks of New York

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Still searching for that perfect gift for the person in your life who loves New York? If you’ve been listening to WNYC, you know about The Landmarks of New York coffee table book. It documents 1,276 individual landmarks and 102 historic districts within the city.

Also, give a listen to Leonard Lopate’s November 11th interview with Kenneth T. Jackson, Professor in History and the Social Sciences at Columbia University and Lisa Keller, Associate Professor of History at SUNY Purchase, both editors of The Encyclopedia of New York City, second edition. A few fun trivia facts come up…like the Hudson River’s original name was “North River” and Wall Street was named that because, obviously, there was a wall down there.




Reclaiming Our Roots

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Reclaimed Home is going back to its roots! After moving back to Brooklyn, where space is an issue, we stopped collecting larger salvaged items for reuse. Well, it’s time to expand again.

Starting a tiny home based business was a breeze. Starting a small business with a team is a bit more challenging. But you know what? It’s important that we do this now for a variety of reasons.

Saving building materials from the landfills. Mother Earth is screaming for help. Tons of demolition rubbish goes into dumpsters every day.

Presenting restoration options for folks of all income levels. We’re going through some rough economic times. Why shouldn’t everyone have the same access to beautiful architectural details and furnishings for their dwellings?

Preserve our history! Old homes are being torn down to make way for new construction. Historic details are discarded of during renovations. The skilled craftspeople who created these materials are long gone. Let’s give their work a second life.

Here’s what you can do to help us achieve our goals. If it can be recycled, please don’t throw it out! We’ll take reusable materials off your hands. If you’re doing a renovation or know of someone who is, contact us before you allow your contractor to destroy house parts and throw them in the dumpster. We’ll carefully remove the items for you so someone else can make use of them.

It will save you demolition fees. It will save you disposal rates. Most importantly, it will save our planet from overflowing landfills.

You can email us by hitting the “contact” link at the top of the middle column. We thank you and Momma Earth thanks you.




Buy The Red Apple Rest Stop

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Me and The Moms took a trip upstate for a couple of days last week. We drove the Old 17 Route so we could pass the Red Apple Rest Stop. The Red Apple was THE place to stop before the NY Thruway was built. Back when it took 5 hours to get to Sullivan County. It was still open up until 2007 when it became condemned.


While we stopped to get pictures, there was someone else swinging by to have a look, remembering the place from his childhood. I wonder how many people go out of their way to check out the old rest stop. Could be a great restoration project and business venture.

The number is on the “For Sale” sign below. Just sayin’.





Bed Stuy Walking Tour

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Spending your Memorial weekend in NYC and thinking of things to do? Free tour of Bed Stuy’s historic Bedford Corners district, led by “Montrose Morris” and “Amzi Hill” will take place on Saturday.

Killing Gatsby (Again)

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“They were careless people — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that about Tom and Daisy back in 1925, but the same can be said about today’s throwaway society. The rumored Gatsby mansion is being demolished, just like many of the other Gold Coast homes of the past.

Developers will tear the house down to build a new McMansion. Because who wants the piece of history that inspired one of the greatest Amercian novels when you can have a brand new super sized tacky house?

Clearly Long Island needs to do something about their landmarks and preservation. This just isn’t right.

Unfortunately, it’s too late for Land’s End. The original fixtures have already been removed. Demolition is under way.

Hundreds of Gold Coast historic mansions have been torn down. Perhaps it’s a good idea to visit the remaining few before it all becomes a valley of ashes.

Via NY Times

All photos by Jen Ross.

Replacement Windows

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Oy, we knew window replacements would be a pricey pain the arse, but we thought we would get away with 2 quotes tops and be on our way to setting up the next project.

The windows in our brownstone are those horrible 1980’s vinyl type. This winter felt like we left them wide open. They are DRAFT-TEE!

Ok, so here’s what we learned about historic-but-not-landmarked windows.

There are two ways to install new windows: Replacement or Brick to Brick. Now, replacement (which is what the vinyl are) would be dead easy and really inexpensive, but there’s no point replacing crap with crap.

Brick to brick is the way to go. Why? Because the installer takes out the entire frame and insulates the empty pockets where the window workings once were. Right now, that is what is creating the draft more than the actual windows. An added bonus is that the window will be a few inches larger and look much nicer. More window, less clad.

Fine. Unfortunately, our windows aren’t straight rectangles. They have a lovely eyebrow at the top. Yes, it’s lovely. But it also means we need custom windows if we want to go back to the original look. Which we do. They will be wood and they will cost anywhere from $2000-$5000 apiece depending on the window location (they vary in size) and who’s doing the quote. That is x 7 not including the rear windows.

The rear windows are pretty straightforward and there are no shutter pockets, so it looks like we can get away with replacements. Aluminum or fiberglass is better than vinyl. They can be made with a wood veneer interior to match the front windows.

And what about window manufacturers? Marvin is top of the line and pretty much one of the only companies we can use because of our silly-shaped historic windows.

Kolbe supposedly makes a nice product, not as expensive as Marvin. People seem to poo-poo Pella and Anderson. Pella has a more modern look to them anyway.

The window guy who’s coming to do a quote later today was talking about LePage Windows. The Canadian company does custom windows that are less expensive than Marvin. Website looks promising and I’m especially loving the French casement design (pictured above) that won’t work in a brownstone.

Finally, the installation matters as much as or more than the windows. You can have the finest quality window in the world. But it ain’t gonna keep you warm if it’s not tight in the frame.

So, there’s your Windows 101. More to follow when we actually buy and install said windows.

DIY:Plaster Medallion Repair

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The broken plaster medallion came out of a Park Slope brownstone restoration about four years ago. I purchased a bunch of architectural salvage from these folks who were updating (raping) their historic home.

Fast forward to this past weekend. I finally repaired it.

Now, if you’re thinking I’m going to give you expert advice on how to successfully repair ornamental plaster, think again. A word of caution…this was all trail and error. So, I’ll share with you the mistakes I made so you don’t have to go through it yourself. Deal?

I couldn’t really find any DIY posts on this subject and I found out there was good reason. It’s a job for a skilled professional. The best article I found was from the government historic preservation site.

Ok, so DIY….

Well, my first idea which I thought was so brilliant, was to build a mold. I went to the useless Pratt Art Supply Store where not one of the four employees I asked knew anything about molds. Hello, art supply store? Know your merch! But I digress.

The resin mold might have worked fine if I wasn’t too lazy to build the perfect support to house it. Ah, but I was. I did a half ass job and the liquid mold dripped out. What was left of my mixture in the cup did harden quickly, so I’m thinking it may have work better if I let it set first to a jello-like consistency. But alas, I didn’t and the thin coat that was on the medallion was impossible to get off.

Take two. I’ll sculpt it myself.

I’ve never worked with Plaster of Paris before. Love the pre-mixed stuff too much. It took me a few tries of mixing the plaster to get it right. FYI, that shit hardens immediately! The trick is to a) use ice cold water and b) hit it with a spoonful of vinegar to retard the drying process. You still need to work fast, but at least it’s within the realm of possibility.

The mixture in the photo below was way too thick. It dried completely within like 2 minutes, leaving me no time to work.


Ok, this is where you might not want to take my word as gospel. Do your own research because I haven’t a clue if this is the right way of doing it. I just know that my medallion hasn’t fallen apart yet.

I started from the back. I had to support it somehow. I didn’t have fiberglass mesh in the house and this metal screen was just sitting there staring at me, so I figured WTF? It’s stiffer than mesh. Um, kind of like re-bar, right? I dipped paper joint compound tape into the plaster and used it to “paste” the screen backing. I also built it up on top of the tape. Think plaster cast or paper mache.

The next step was to build it up and start to shape it. Since sculpting is not my forte, I figured there would be some sanding involved.

Here’s the first glob. That took some hand sanding until I realized I could cheat with a Dremel tool. The Dremel worked great! One more application of plaster and some more sanding did a good enough job.

Oh, this is the unbroken side I was trying to replicate. Not bad for my first attempt at this stuff, right? Please be kind if you know I totally did it the wrong way. Just humor me.

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