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Urgent: Help Save The Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten Building On President Street In Carroll Gardens As It Faces Imminent Demolition


Drawing of the building from The Brooklyn Eagle, November 21, 1897
238 President Street and 236 President Street seen in 1912 and today

In November 2017, PMFA alerted the Carroll Gardens neighborhood to the fact that the small beige brick home at 236 President Street, between Court Street and Clinton Street may be in danger of being torn down. At the time, this ornate and unusual building was listed with Alex Calabretta of Douglas Elliman in such a way as to appeal to developers who would take full advantage of the building’s R6A zoning and its remaining floor area.

Live in this truly unique home while developing a project that could fund your retirement. This extremely sturdy, 2 story structure could potentially support an additional 5 floors of living space totaling over 10,000 sq. feet. With possibly up to 16 dwelling units this property could provide a sellout of over $15,000,000 at today’s market prices for new condos in the area. Bring your Manhattan developers looking to dip their toes into coveted markets – Carroll Gardens.”
236 President Street soon went into contract, and we now know that Avo Construction, the buyer, is planning on closing on it at the beginning of March.  (Avo is the construction company behind the condo building at 210 Pacific Street).
At an initial meeting with members of the board from the adjoining buildings at 232 and 238 President and St. Paul’s Church at the intersection of Carroll and Clinton Streets, the developer expressed the intention to demolish the original building in order to erect a six-story luxury condominium that would utilize the full area allowed by the lot’s R6A zoning.
The demolition of 236 President Street would rob Carroll Gardens of an important part of its history. The two-story, stand-alone structure was designed by Hough & Duell in 1897 as the Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten in tribute to Hans S. Christian by his widow. A Norwegian immigrant, Christian lived at 231 President Street and owned a lime and brick factory on Second Street in Gowanus.
The building’s uniqueness was mentioned in a November 1897 article in the Brooklyn Eagle, which covered the Kindergarten’s dedication. “It is the only building of its kind in Brooklyn, so far as known, and one of the very few in existence in the City.”
Though built exclusively as a kindergarten, complete with cloak room, teachers’ parlor, matron’s quarters, pantry, janitor’s room and sun-filled classrooms, the building was transformed into a residence decades ago.
To save the building,  the residents of 238 President Street have reached out to New York City’s Landmark Preservation Commission to request expeditious historic landmark designation for the “Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten”, as well as their own building, which predates it by 45 years and once housed the “Brooklyn Deaconess Home and Training School of the Methodist Episcopal Church.”
In effect, the two buildings share much history.  In  February 1897, Mrs. Elmira Christian, Hans Christian’s widow, purchased 238 President Street and deeded it to the Brooklyn Church Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. in her husband’s memory. The building would became the “Brooklyn Deaconess Home and Training School of the Methodist Episcopal Church.”  The school’s charitable activities would serve the needs of immigrant families in the area.
The Christian Memorial Kindergarten was erected by Elmira Christian as a free standing structure on her property. Both buildings shared the same building parcel until 1974.
The residents of 238 President Street and their neighbors believe strongly that the preservation of both these local historical properties is integral to the appeal and substance of  Carroll Gardens.
We need to come together as a community to show our support. Please consider sending a letter of support for landmarking to the Landmark Preservation Commission, Community Board 6 and Councilmember Brad Lander. All you have to do is to send the following text or your own via email:
msrinivasan@lpc.nyc.gov, klemosmchale@lpc.nyc.gov, lander@council.nyc.gov and info@brooklynCB6.org
“This March,  236 President Street will be sold to a developer who plans to demolish the building and replace it with a six-story luxury condominium that will rise 70 feet, taller than any other building on the block. 
236 President Street, designed by Hough & Duell and built in 1897, is an integral part of Carroll Gardens’ history and as the former Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten, holds significance for New York City.
I support saving Carroll Gardens’ history by giving 236 and 238 President Street landmark status.”
You can use the QR code provided below if you have an updated iPhone or Android-based smart phone. Just point your phone’s camera at the symbol below. It will bring you to an automatically generated email message to LPC, CB6 and Lander.
No matter how you voice your support, please do it TODAY as time is of the essence! And please encourage others to do the same.
Thanks, neighbors.

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