When Chancellors Were Kings They Had a Brooklyn Heights Palace

AEB alerts us to a story in today’s NY Times about the townhouse at 80 State Street that was once the official residence of NYC’s schools chancellors. Purchased in 1990 $990K by the city to “pursuade” Joseph A. Fernandez to take the job, it was auctioned off in 2003 for $2.4 million:

NY Times: The winning bidder resold the property for $3.3 million in 2005 to Christopher Warren and his wife, Tanya Rivero.

Mr. Warren and Ms. Rivero said that when they moved in, they found some remnants of past chancellors, like a poster in a closet that read, “Bosnia Students Need Your Help, Mr. Crew,” and a $100,000 security system.

Mr. Warren said the house, which dated from about 1850, required tremendous work. Since they were both working and starting a family, they renovated a little bit at a time. They settled into the garden floor and first floor. They grew a garden in the backyard where a shady oak once grew. They turned the upper floors into a separate apartment.

In October 2005, they rented the apartment to Kevin Flowers, a consultant, and his wife, Camilla Bruckner, who works for the United Nations Development Program. The Flowers, who still live there, have grown used to the building’s quirks and history, like the outdated videophones left throughout the house and the sloped floors, which make his workout weights roll to the center of the floor. And the house once again has been filled with school-age children. Mr. Flowers said his 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter hang out in the attic with friends to “escape the adults.”

This year, the ownership of the chancellor’s house passed to a new family. Mr. Warren and Ms. Rivero moved back to Manhattan to be closer to Ms. Rivero’s job as an anchor at ABC News, and to schools for their children. In January, they sold the house to Brian Colton and Julia Kahr for $3.9 million, who both work in finance. At an open house they attended on the weekend they returned from their honeymoon, they had fallen in love with the high ceilings and original moldings.

NY Times photo

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  • lois

    I remember the great controversy when the Bd of Ed bought the house.Then, the next few chancellors didn’t even live there. Glad they didn’t lose any money on it.

  • bklyn20

    I had a few conversations with Rudy Crew and his wife on that stoop.

  • lifer

    I remember seeing Rudy Crew in line at the Cobble Hill cInemas on a few occasions

  • travy

    were heights brownstones going for a million back in 1990? sounds high?

  • Jorale-man

    I thought the same thing @travy. Especially because it probably wasn’t such a desirable area then as it is now.

    Rudy Crew still lives in the Heights actually, so it must have made a positive impression on him.

  • lois

    Travy – I know of three brownstones that sold for about $950,000 in 1995 – the problem with selling them was that they were not one family houses and you had the problem of tenants if you wanted it to be a one family home.