Archive for January, 2014

firelimits_blogentry_001The Brooklyn brownstone rose out of fire – or at least the need to defend against it. Wood houses could be a hazard to neighbors, right on down the block. So in 1852, “Fire Limits” were set in the high density zone of Brooklyn Heights and then they were expanded in 1892. This law outlined streets where wooden houses could not be built, eventually helping to fuel a brownstone mania. This doesn’t relate to 158 Clifton Place, other than helping to confirm it’s construction date – 1883, or about ten years before the law put wood frame houses on ice. There’s a detailed overview of the Fire Limits at The Wooden House Project.  Photos: l. 1856 Brooklyn Fire Engine (The Wooden House Project) r. Brooklyn Ice truck (Ditmas Park Corner).     



158 Clifton Place, Brooklyn c. 1840 – NYC Municipal Archives


garland_blogimage_002The scattered belongings left in the house include the expected – remnant building supplies, old books, a few lights, a mattress, broken electronics…and a half ton commercial stove – a surprise encounter in the basement kitchen. As it happened, the owners mom ran a restaurant in the neighborhood years ago and the stove was brought back when it closed. Even minimally maintained, it’s a culinary workhorse. It may have eBay value or resale to a restaurant equipment dealer, at least for parts  – if we can figure how to get it out. When it was brought in thirty years ago, the stoop was gone (the original was wood, like the facade), and it squeezed through the front without having to angle through the current vestibule. The other articles left within the house read like a list of yard sale leftovers, though some of the lot hopes to get a closer look. 

Squib History: The Garland Stove was introduced in Detroit, back in 1860‘s Civil War era by brothers Jeremiah and James Dwyer.  They started out with potbellied models for heating, and soon added cooking stoves. The industry was helped along by the shipping industry on the Great Lakes and Iron ore from upper Michigan, and made Detroit the “Potbelly Stove Capital”. And the Garland Stove became a symbol of Detroit’s manufacturing strength in the late nineteenth century – building the road for the automobile industry that would follow.


castrucci_photo_edited-1THE ARCHITECT was a hard decision. Even within the current short list of Passive House Certified professionals, NYC offers a great range of individuals and firms, each with strong and unique qualifications, track records, and personal commitments to sustainability. In the end, we went with Paul Castrucci, Architect.   

Paul A. Castrucci Architect has a long track record in sustainable design. Established over 20 years ago, the  firm often works towards drastically reduced energy use, with advanced energy analysis and ongoing research – alongside design excellence.

The firm is located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Over the past decades, Mr. Castrucci has been actively involved in the community and its development, including the current restoration of ABC No Rio. He has designed and renovated sites throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, many specifically for the homeless and those with low incomes. Paul Castrucci is also an accomplished curator, sculptor and blacksmith. He directed the Lower East Side art spaces A & P and Bullet.


Situ Studio unveiled their new food truck design for the start up Drive Change, that serves up a Maple centered menu – grilled cheese dripping with maple syrup, maple-bacon doughnuts – with a side of social action with each order. The mobile restaurant employs formerly inprisoned young people, helping them to learn new skills and re-mobilize their lives. 
Inhabitat describes the design as an “transformation of an old Con-Ed truck with an abstract snowflake design that echoes Snowday’s fun, arctic theme. Recycled materials such as approx. one inch reclaimed cedar and reclaimed Redwood from an old cooling tower (supplied by Sawkill Lumber Co.) were used to create the multi-colored, 3-layer snowflake pattern that wraps the vehicle…” Photo: