Designation comes after 1,596 Carroll Gardens residents signed a petition urging LPC to make the designation
Lander also calls on the LPC to expand the Carroll Gardens Historic District
Brooklyn, NY — New York City Council Member Brad Lander today applauded the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designation of the Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten at 236 President Street and the neighboring building at 238 President Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn as individual landmarks. The Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten was the first stand-alone kindergarten in Brooklyn, and both buildings are associated with Elmira Christian, an early childhood education advocate and activist.
“I’m beyond thrilled that the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to preserve 236 and 238 President Street in Carroll Gardens,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The beautiful, historic nature of many of the buildings in Carroll Gardens is one reason why so many people love living in the neighborhood, and these buildings, one of them being the first stand-alone kindergarten in Brooklyn, reflect the rich history of the neighborhood. I’m deeply grateful to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for listening to the appeal of our community, and hope it will also expand the Carroll Gardens Historic District. Huge props go to the co-op owners at 238 President Street, especially to Jim & Grace Protos, Philip Mindlin and to Judge Mike Pesce who helped to sound the alarm bell, and sought to have their own building landmarked alongside, showing the true spirit of neighborhood that makes Carroll Gardens a great place. Thanks also to Katia Kelly, Glenn Kelly and John Hatheway for their leadership, to Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council, and to Representative Nydia Velazquez, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, and Brooklyn Community Board 6 who joined in the effort. And to the nearly 1600 neighbors for signing our petition to preserve our community history.”
“I and my neighbors at 238 President Street are grateful to the LPC for their recognition of the historic value of these two buildings and for designating them as landmarks today,” said Jim Protos, an owner at 238 President Street. “These structures proudly represent the rich cultural and architectural history of Carroll Gardens and Brooklyn, and we are proud to know that they will both be preserved for future generations of neighbors and visitors to admire. We also deeply appreciate the proactive and vocal support of the many neighbors and supporters Councilman Lander mentioned who invaluably contributed their time and energy to achieving this successful outcome–and the exemplary leadership the Councilman and his wonderful team showed throughout the designation process.”
The former Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten building, located at 236 President Street, was built in 1897 and operated by the Brooklyn Free Kindergarten Society. It was the first building in Brooklyn that was designated specifically for use as a kindergarten (which was not provided in public schools at the time). The handsome two-story structure later housed the First Methodist Episcopal congregation, the first Spanish-speaking parish in Brooklyn, and converted to residences (a fuller history of the building is available here).
The neighboring building, 238 President Street, is an Italianate mansion built 45 years earlier, in 1853. It features a trellised gate and front garden, a grand stoop with cast-iron balusters, iron pilasters alongside the original entry door, a decorative pediment, and florid cast-iron moldings. On the trellis, one can see reference to the Methodist Episcopal mission, one of several religious and social institutions that occupied the property.
The Carroll Gardens Historic District (designated in 1973) remains one of the smallest historic districts in New York City, including only 134 contributing buildings, and does not extend to 236 & 238 President Street. Council Member Lander and neighbors have also urged the Landmarks Preservation Commission to expand the Carroll Gardens Historic District and extend overdue preservation protections to a greater area of the neighborhood.