Pierrepont’s Beloved Herman Behr Mansion Shrouded In Netting

One of Brooklyn Heights’ mightiest architectural triumphs, the Romanesque Revival Herman Behr Mansion at 82 Pierrepont Street—which changed hands in 2008 for $10.98 million—has been covered in netting, as it undergoes a mass of restoration to its facade.

It was built in 1888 by architect Frank Freeman for $80,000, and named after the mining industrialist who built it—and had a sordid existence after its namesake died. (Behr’s son Karl, a renowned tennis pro, survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.) In 1919, after the family relocated upstate—with a massive add-on—it became The Hotel Palm, which those in the know were aware was a neighborhood bordello.

Afterward, as the Franciscan House of Studies, it housed the Order of the Franciscan monks, who were sent to the Brooklyn Heights locale when they needed a place to “dry out.” In 1977, it was converted to 26 rental apartments (six lucky bastards are rent-stabilized), and it has remained 100% occupied since.

(Info extracted from Chuck Taylor’s The Smoking Nun blog here.)

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  • Lou K.

    Nice piece – great building!

  • lori

    Many thanks for your historical capsules on many of our neighborhood buildings. There’s always something new to learn.

  • 5thfloorwalkuper

    Um, Xaviera Hollander was born in 1943 and didn’t start her more famous career as a brothel owner until 1969, according to Wikipedia, which also notes that Xaviera’s occupancy of the hotel is an urban legend, as her actual brothel was on the Upper East Side at York and 73rd St.

    The Palm Hotel’s more risque existence was considerably earlier.

  • Michael Towers

    The old fig tree next to the building on the Henry Street side of the street finally bit the dust. Looks like it was ripped down to the stump when the current scaffolding was erected. Speaking of which, I wonder why the scaffolding was put up so soon after a previous scaffolding was taken down (also affecting the tree, but at least not breaking it).

  • Janeonorange

    My parents moved to the hood in 1952 and they always told me it had been a brothel.

  • Bill

    Your square footage is also off my at least a factor of 10.

  • GHB

    I love this building! I just hope that when they remove the netting, that hideous “awning” will be gone

  • BHer

    GHB – I agree. Hard to imagine Landmarks approved that. We had to go through hell with them to have a vent (5 inches diameter) put on the back of our building on the 5th floor. I can’t imagine they would approve this.

  • Van

    Hi, resident of 82 Pierrepont here. Yes, the fig tree. My husband and I are the residents who work in the garden space each year — and we were totally bummed when the workers came in – destroying all the flowers we planted for the season plus the legendary fig tree. It’s been a very messy restoration project to say the least!

  • Van

    PS There’s also a legend where 2 servants died, when the elevator got stuck as the Beher’s were on vacation in Europe. They came home to find the deceased. Also heard this bldg was the first to have an elevator in a private residence in Brooklyn. Oh, and there was a family who lived there after the Beher’s – I met a woman who discovered this from reading her Grandmother’s diary and talking about the house. She was taking photos outside my window. Finally my door has a cross on it. leftover from the monks!

  • Van

    OH! And Karl Beher (their son and pro-tennis player) survived the Titanic. His family sent him to try and break-up a romance. He was involved with a womn from the wrong side of the tracks. He survived by hopping on a lifeboat with family friend (the Un-Sinkable) Molly Brown. He married the gal and they moved to Princeton raising a family.

  • Curmudgeon

    No, the elevator malfunction and servant deaths took place in the house at 119 8th Ave in Park Slope. It was the house of Thomas Adams, the owner of the chewing gum American Chicle Company maker if Chiclets.

    See here: