Looking for impressive new digs in Brooklyn? How about an extraordinary 1905 mansion in Brooklyn’s historic Prospect Park South neighborhood that features four 25-foot Ionic columns flanking its two-story portico, mullioned windows that look like giant spider webs, two terraces and a Juliet balcony? This house is hard to miss, even in a pocket neighborhood known for quirky Victorian mansions.
Designed by architect Henry B. Moore for George E. Gale, son of a successful Pennsylvanian leather tanner, the property is now owned by architect Stephen Tanenbaum and his wife Alisa Stratton. The place was in rough shape when they bought it in 2017 for $2.5 million. But now, all restored and modernized with new systems and stylish contemporary touches, the mansion has been listed with Mary Kay Seery at Brown Harris Stevens at just under $13 million.
In 1892, a man called Dean Alvord bought a large tract of land in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park district for what would become his Prospect Park South development, which today comprises about 10 blocks. He began selling lots in 1899 with the aim to create a suburb for “people of intelligence and good breeding.” For Alvord, this meant a neighborhood “where a wife and children, in going to and fro, are not subjected to the annoyance of contact with the undesirable elements of society.” Of course, what he really meant was an upper-class Protestant neighborhood that excluded the immigrant populations that were settling across Brooklyn at the time. Today, the neighborhood enjoys a far more diverse population.
Two of the architects who designed local houses include William Van Alen, best known for his work on the Chrysler Building, and Arthur Loomis Harmon, the design partner for the Empire State Building. And though the neighborhood is somewhat under the radar compared to other flashier Brooklyn neighborhoods, it’s nonetheless attracted a fair share notable recent residents, including actress Michelle Williams, novelist Jonathan Safran Foer (“Everything Is Illuminated,” 2002) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire.
The Gale house is perhaps the most unusual in the neighborhood. It sports more than a hundred windows, many of which are different types, such as the roof dormers with spider-web mullions topped by broken pediments. There are also plain sash windows and leaded glass windows, windows with gothic tracery, and eyebrow windows.
Everything about this house is huge. There are a whopping 22 rooms, with nine bedrooms, seven and a half bathrooms and half a dozen fireplaces within its more than 11,000 square feet. Highlights include a grand foyer with gleaming black-and-white checkerboard marble floor, an elegant parlor jazzed up with a contemporary light fixture, and a mahogany-paneled dining room. There’s also a paneled den or library for more intimate gatherings.
The kitchen, too, is exceptional. It boasts 11-foot ceilings, a wood-burning limestone fireplace, a 10-foot center island, a rolling library ladder for reaching the uppermost cabinets, and a breakfast table for six. The brick-shaped mirror tiles on the backsplash, though, seem out of synch. The master suite is particularly spacious and the dressing room is lust-worthy, as is the large bathroom, except, again, for the mirror tiles behind the vanity.
One of the things that really sets this place apart is the ballroom, a massive 1,200-square-foot space with a 17-foot ceiling, a full-size antique bar, a home theater, and a billiards area. A spiral staircase leads to a reading loft, and there’s an adjacent games room. The stuffed deer are amusing; not so much the fake-book wallpaper.
The finished lower level offers nine-foot ceilings, a private entrance, a workout room and sauna, a media room, and full staff quarters. Quite generous for the city, the one-third acre plot allows for 700 square feet of bluestone patios and a bit of lawn, as well as a 2-car garage with a charging station.
As you might expect from such an extraordinary property, the house has appeared in both films and TV, including the movie “Reversal of Fortune” and an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”
See? Told you it was impressive. Now, about that $13 million…