INTRODUCTION TO PIERREPONT PLACE, BROOKLYN HEIGHTS
Welcome to a brief walking tour of Pierrepont Place, one of Brooklyn's most elegant streets of 19th-century townhouses.
Pierrepont Place was home to many of Brooklyn's 19th-century wealthy, WASPY movers and shakers. Many of Brooklyn’s unique cultural institutions got their start nearby: the Brooklyn Historical Society (founded in the Heights under a different name), the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Try to stop at the Brooklyn Historical Society as it's well worth a visit. Plus, it's the the only Pierrepont Place town house that tourists can enter.
1. Victorian Homes of Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn Heights
Thanks to the New York City Landmarks Commission (and activist local residents), the facades of the homes on Pierrepont Place appear today as they did decades ago. Simply walking down the street, visitors can get a sense of the closely-packed, yet luxurious townhouse lifestyle enjoyed by wealthy Brooklyn residents of the late 19th century.
This 1881 Queene Anne building is home to the Brooklyn Historical Society and Museum. Perhaps the most important stop on this walking tour, it houses the largest collection of Brooklyn history in the United States.
Enjoy wonderful exhibits—and a peek into the elegant, old-fashioned wood-paneled library.
However, check hours before you go; they are open on weekends but closed several days during the week.
3. St. Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights
Where: 129 Pierrepont Place
Designed by architect Frank Freeman and built in 1906, this was originally an exclusive gentleman's-only club, called the Crescent Athletic Club. Minorities and women were legally banned from joining this, along with several other noted Brooklyn clubs of the era.
History gets its revenge. Today the building houses a highly selective private school that's well known for its excellent college admissions, colorful founding principal, and consistently progressive philosophy.
4. First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights
Where: Corner Pierrepont Place at Monroe
Any historic walking tour of Victorian Brooklyn will likely include churches; Brooklyn was long known as the City of Churches for its many beautiful steepled houses of worship. This neo-Gothic beauty, designed by Lafever and with five Tiffany stained glass windows, dates to the 1840s.
The century-old pipe organ in the First Unitarian Church has been restored. It is still in use.
This location doesn't boast great architecture, but it houses the only retail space on Pierrepont Place: the Brooklyn Women's Exchange. The Brooklyn Women's Exhange sells a large selection of charming quilts, sweaters, mittens, hats, stuffed animals, and children's clothes. Almost everything is handmade. Given the architectural setting, the store seems appropriately Victorian in its sensibility.
6. Numbers 2 and 3 Pierrepont Place Residence in Brooklyn Heights
Near the Promenade overlooking the New York Harbor and lower Manhattan, are two stunning Victorian homes.
Abiel Abbot Low was the first resident of Number 3 Pierrepont Place. His family’s fortune derived from import-export trade in China. Low’s son, Seth Low, a talented (and moneyed) politician and administrator, became Columbia University's president. His name graces Low Library. He later became mayor of Brooklyn and then of New York City.
Number 3 Pierrepont Place was the residence of philanthropist and housing reformer, Alfred Tredway White.
7. To Learn More about Victorian Brooklyn Heights and Pierrepont Street
To learn more about the individual homes in Brooklyn Heights, see the Brooklyn Heights Association's walking tour booklet, Enjoying Brooklyn Heights.
Or, inquire at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
8. To Learn More About Victorian Architecture in Brooklyn
Walking Tour of Victorian Prospect Park South: For a self-guided walking tour of a more suburban style of Victorian living in Brooklyn, hop on the subway to see the beautiful landmarked homes in the neighborhood called Prospect Park South.