Take a Tour of Eastern Bed-Stuy This Weekend

eastern bed stuy, eastern bedford stuyvesant, morgan munsey, suzanne spellen

Bed-Stuy is a huge neighborhood, with various architecture to admire depending on which area you’re in. This Saturday, the Municipal Art Society is hosting a walking tour in one of the lesser-talked about districts: East Bed-Stuy. The tour is being led by my all-time favorite guides, Suzanne Spellen and Morgan Munsey. Their tours, which cover both architecture and history, are an absolute treat and I will be there ready to learn. Here are details from MAS:

Join tour guides Suzanne Spellen, writer and architectural historian, aka columnist “Montrose Morris” on Brownstoner.com, and Morgan Munsey, architect, historian, and expert on the architecture of Bedford Stuyvesant for a look at Bedford Stuyvesant’s Eastern District, the great architecture, and the history of the neighborhood then and now. For too many years, this part of Brooklyn has been neglected and forgotten, but no more. Cost: $30 / $20 Members

The tour is scheduled for Saturday, November 5th at 2pm. To buy tickets, go here and click through to the “Bedford Stuyvesant Eastern District” tour.

Photo via Suzanne Spellen

Don’t Miss It! Browntoners of Bedford Stuyvesant House Tour is October 15th

 Browntoners of Bedford Stuyvesant, Inc. 38th Annual House Tour

If you live in Bed-Stuy, you know we have some of the best architecture in the entire borough. Which means you really can’t miss the Browntoners of Bedford Stuyvesant, Inc. 38th Annual House Tour–your chance to peek inside these incredible homes and see how the interiors are just as lovely as the exteriors. On Saturday, October 15th at 11am, the self-guided tour will begin at Boys and Girls High School (1700 Fulton Street), where you receive a brochure outlining the participating homes. You’ll have until 4pm to check them all out.

Tickets are $20 in advance (til October 14th) and $25 on the day of the tour. Buy them online here or pick them up in person at BrooklynSwirl (445 Marcus Garvey Boulevard at MacDonough Street) or Bed-VyneWine (370 Tompkins Avenue at Putnam). You can also pick up advanced tickets at the Bed-Stuy Alive! Gala Kickoff next Saturday, October 8th.

Photos courtesy Brownstoners of Bed-Stuy

A New Historic District for Bed-Stuy!

Bedford Historic District, bed-stuy, LPC, Landmarks Preservation Commission

Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission added a new historic district to the neighborhood — one that residents have been pushing for years now. Now known as the Bedford Historic District, it includes about 800 Italianate, Neo-Grec and Queen Anne buildings between Bedford and Tompkins avenues and Monroe and Macon streets. Girls High School, on Nostrand, and Boys High School, on Marcy –both stunning buildings! — are now protected. You can read more about the architecture within the district here [PDF]. This is awesome news, because it protects some of the neighborhood’s best buildings from demolition and the god-awful additions that are going up on brownstones these days. (Any changes to the facades of these buildings will now have to be approved by the LPC.)

According to DNAinfo, one of the commissioners called the area a “museum of late 19th century architecture.” LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said the neighborhood was “obviously an historic district.” Yes, we know! Bedford Historic District is the third area designated in the neighborhood; the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District was approved in 1971 then expanded in 2013.

Improvements for Some Historic Properties on MacDonough Street

57 MacDonough Street, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

Earlier this summer I snapped a some photos around MacDonough and Tompkins, where quite a bit of work was going down on a few historic properties. One of my favorite Bed Stuy buildings, the United Order of the Tents mansion at 87 MacDonough Street, has some scaffolding up. There’s a permit out for structural and facade repairs. If you’re not familiar with this gorgeous property, I encourage you to read up on its fascinating history and current owners. Hopefully it’s a job done well — there have been a number of violations issued against previous work here.

75 MacDonough Street, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

75 MacDonough, a landmarked eight-unit apartment building next door, is also getting some TLC. The building was up for sale last year asking $3.2 million and it sold last summer for $3.15 million. This May, the DOB approved permits for exterior work — new paint on the decorative metalwork and fire escapes, as well as re-pointing and repairs to the brick. It’s a striking Renaissance Revival facade (built on 1902) so it’ll be great when the scaffolding comes down to see the improvements.

Locals: Where Do You Take Your Out-of-Town Visitors?

Saraghina, Brooklyn, pizza
Saraghina, photo by SUNHEE G. via Yelp

Hey locals, where do you take your out-of-town visitors in the neighborhood to give them a taste of Bed Stuy? I’ll do dinner at Peaches Hot House, a walk down Hancock Street, and a beer at Bed-Vyne Brew. (I’ve long wished to treat a guest and myself to a stay at Akwaaba Mansion. Maybe someday…) Another good visitor spot is David’s Brisket House.

I was thinking about the question after a commenter mentioned taking guests to Saraghina, not because the commenter loves it, but because there aren’t many options in the neighborhood. Saraghina is often a go-to for me, especially for other New Yorkers visiting the neighborhood who have heard of it. Do you feel the same way? I’d love to know what destinations you feel are “quintessential Bed Stuy,” and if there are enough of those spots to go around.

A Progress Report on the Historic Commercial Building at 405 Gates Avenue

405 Gates Avenue, Bed Stuy,  MARIANNE RUSSO ARCHITECTS

I noticed construction going on at 405 Gates Avenue, a prominent three-story building on the corner of Nostrand Avenue. Turns out the building has a very interesting history — according to Brownstoner, it was built around 1888 as a public meeting house known as Arlington Hall. It was commonly used by fraternal organizations and societies as the area became home to an upper and middle class. According to writer Montrose Morris, “From what scraps of information I’ve gleaned, the building originally had meeting rooms, offices, a dining room and a bowling alley.” It was boarded up in the 70s and fell into disrepair.

405 Gates Avenue, bed stuy

405 Gates Avenue in 2006. Photo via PropertyShark.

Current construction will restore this building for commercial purposes. The architect, Marianne Russo, reported that the project faced delays with the Department of Buildings. But everything is back in order with the Department of Buildings, she said, although she couldn’t give a construction timeline. While the building suffered from some serious neglect, the team is trying to maintain the facade as much as possible. It’ll be great to see it open to the public again!

Isaac and Stern Architects Have Two Big Projects Planned for Bed Stuy

627 Dekalb Avenue, bed Stuy, Isaac and Stern

So I stumbled across this construction site on the corner of Dekalb and Nostrand. The Department of Buildings approved a new building application this month for seven stories, 28 units and 25,215 total square feet. Construction should last through the spring of next year. The architect, Isaac and Stern, have fancy renderings up at their website:

627 Dekalb Avenue

627 Dekalb Avenue, renderings by Isaac and Stern Architects

Looking through the architect’s website, I also found a rendering for a massive project they are designing right on the border of Bed Stuy and Clinton Hill. This one is at 168-184 Franklin Avenue, on the corner of Willoughby:

184 Franklin Avenue

180 Franklin Avenue, rendering by Isaac and Stern Architects


The DOB issued a new building permit for this last month. It will be a five-story building with 118 units, 104,000 square feet, and a garage at the first floor. I like this design more than the one proposed for 627 Dekalb Avenue, which is a little more bland. Do you have a preference?