Sneak Peek at 166 Montague and Some Mad Montague & Court History

The work of many great architects from the late nineteenth century has disappeared from the New York City architectural landscape. Unrelenting demolition of these age-old structures by developers and city planners in the name of progress have made the remaining survivors akin to endangered species. Brooklyn Heights has fortunately maintained landmark status protection since 1965 and as a consequence has a large stock of historically significant buildings.

Developers, at the same time, have been quick to recognize that premium prices can be achieved by carefully restoring these historical structures and have capitalized on the concept, otherwise known as adaptive re-use. Fortunately the profit motive and restoration are not mutually exclusive but rather have a symbiotic relationship.

This film focuses primarily on 166 Montague, formerly the Franklin Trust Building, as an example of a restored classic iconoclastic building that is being restored to prominence enjoyed in its early days when designed by George L. Morse in 1892. What makes this all the more satisfying is its proximity to St. Ann’s and the Holy Trinity Church and the Brooklyn Trust Building, two other architecturally significant building in Brooklyn Heights.

Mr. Morse, also designed the Temple Bar Building, Abraham and Strauss Building, the First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, as well as a personal favorite, the now demolished Brooklyn Daily Eagle Building all built in the late nineteenth century.
The exquisite renovation of the Franklin Trust Building is a tremendous success story and we can all rejoice that George L. Morse will have a place in Brooklyn Heights that will live on for many years to come.

Share this Story:


  • StephM

    KarL: It’s very clear to me, from a distance, how lucky BH is to have you as a resident. I love your videos. In this one, my favourite is St-Ann’s. I’ve been there on a few occasions to hear the organ and to just sit. Great space to reflect and wonderful acoustics. Keep up the great video work that feeds my dreams!
    PS, not sure if you heard, but I got a response to my request from the Dec 30th open thread!!! LOL!!!

  • AEB

    Great work, Karl, as ever.

    It seems to me that the utmost architectural treasure of BH is its housing strock.

    Taken as a whole–as, because of its homogenousness, it is inevitably–it’s greater than any individual structure, no matter how worthy it may be.

  • nabeguy

    A walking tour of the Heights should be a mandatory requirement for any student of American architecture. I can’t think of another neighborhood that offers as wide a range of styles, from the Federal and Greek Revival buildings of the 1820’s in the north end, through the brownstone eras of the 1840’s, to the more exuberant expressions of the 1880’s, such as the Behr Mansion, all contained in a 12 block stretch. It’s like traveling through a portal of evolving fashions and cultural tastes.

  • John C. Wentling

    Even as a child I was struck by the diversity and magnificence of BH architecture – absolutely nabeguy, it should be a mandatory requirement, there’s really nothing else like it. My personal favorite is St. Ann’s, although I had a fascination for my church, Assumption.

    Great job Karl, I look forward to each and every installment, you’re a tremendous asset to the Heights.

  • Andrew Porter

    I also learned a few years ago that after hanging, John Brown’s body was interred from a funeral home at the corner of Joralemon and Court. Who knew?

  • binbrooklyn

    Thank you for such a loving portrait!

    Just one correction. I think you mean to say the buildings are “iconic” not “iconoclastic.”

    Ironically, it is the destruction of great buildings that is “iconoclastic” in that it destroys the icons of culture.

    Similarly an Iconoclast is a person who breaks down the established traditions.

    (Not meant as snarky! Thanks again for the short.)

  • villanelle

    binbrooklyn, you beat me to it: the misuse of “iconclastic” in an otherwise lovely vignette.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Absolutely. I blew it. Martin Schneider was quick to point that out to me after I posted video. Thanks for noticing.

  • the where

    i think iconiclastic is fantastictic.