Carroll Gardens Group Fights To Save The Historic Hans S. Christian Kindergarten

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CARROLL GARDENS – In an effort to preserve a piece of the neighborhood’s history, Carroll Gardens residents are fighting to save two buildings located at 236 and 238 President Street (between Court & Clinton).

236 (right) and 238 (left) President Street (Photo: Nicholas Strini, Feb. 1, 2012, via Property Shark)

According to the petition circulating to save the two properties, 236 President (built in 1897) was recently sold to a developer who plans to demolish the building and replace it with a six-story luxury condo.

The neighboring 238 President was built in 1853. The two buildings were originally connected and “comprised a compound that had been used for residential, religious and educational purposes for over a century,” according to the Save Carroll Gardens History blog.

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238 was built as a private residence and was designed in the Anglo-Italian style. Adjoining 238 on the west was the owner’s carriage house which in 1897 was replaced with the current two-story building standing on the 236 lot. The smaller building housed one of Brooklyn’s first public kindergartens.

Mrs. Elmira Christian purchased both buildings and deeded 238 to the Methodist Episcopal Church in memory of her late husband, Hans S. Christian, a philanthropist and prominent merchant who owned a lime and brick factory in Gowanus, Pardon Me For Asking reports. The building’s parlor floors initially housed a kindergarten and the upper floors were used as residences for the church’s Deaconesses, or social workers, who served the area’s immigrant communities.

After replacing the carriage house at 236 with a new (existing) building, Mrs. Christian moved the kindergarten into the new free-standing structure. Completed in 1897, The Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten, was designed by Hough & Duell in the French Renaissance style. Despite an “unsympathetic garage addition,” which was added in later years and can likely be removed, 236 President is intact, according to the blog.

In 1974, the two properties were split and sold separately to different parties who used the buildings as owner-occupied residences. The buyer of 238 still lives in the building however he converted the property into co-ops in 1984.

In 2009, Marty Markowitz, the Borough President at the time, recommended that 236 President be considered for landmark designation but no action was taken by the property’s owner.

Today, the Carroll Gardens community is hoping to change that. A group has requested that the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) grant expeditious historic landmark designation to 236 and 238 President Street—also known as the “Hans S. Christian Memorial” and the “Brooklyn Deaconess Home and Training School of the Methodist Episcopal Church.”

Earlier this month, the LPC expedited the approval process for the Dr. Maurice T. Lewis House in Sunset Park.

To learn more and to sign the petition, go to the Save Carroll Gardens History blog.

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