Heights History, 153 Joralemon, 1926

This vintage photo of the Brooklyn Heights residential building at 153 Joralemon Street from 1953 1926 reveals that little has changed in 85+ years, save for the current bodega on the ground level. The five-story walk-up was built in 1900, according to Streeteasy, and currently comprises eight units. It also boasts a common roofdeck.
(Photos: Vintage/Brooklyn Public Library; current/Chuck Taylor)

Share this Story:

, ,

  • stuart

    The old photo looks older than 1953.
    I would say it is closer to 1933.

  • http://www.musictogetheratkiddiekorner.com Naomi Weinberger

    does anybody know why the ornamentation around the windows and doors was removed?

  • stuart

    two main reasons why facade ornamentation around windows and doors was often removed: 1. the stone was decaying and 2. it was considered old fashioned and out of style.

  • bklyn20

    It’s not really a bodega. I think of it as either The Packer Canteen or The Korean Candy Carnival. The sugar selection could give the fancy candy store in Dummbo a run for its money.

  • bklyn20

    Sorry, DUMBO.

  • Jorale-man

    A number of the brownstones on Joralemon between Clinton and Hicks have had their original details stripped off. It probably happened in the 1950s, when it was popular to mutilate Victorian buildings and before the historic district designation.

    I do wish the bodega would upgrade its offerings a bit. I’d bet that 80% of their customers are Packer students but it doesn’t offer much for the nearby residents.

  • stuart

    A true bodega sells cigarettes singly, butter by the half stick, and stocks Cafe Bustelo. They are very handy.

  • Justin

    The early photo is actually from 1926. It was originally the home of Dr. Johnson and was converted to apartments in the late 19teens or early 1920s by the firm of Slee and Bryson, including the other building visible in the photo, 151 Joralemon.

  • Justin

    Sorry. Incomplete thought. Slee and Bryson did many other buildings in the neighborhood, including 151 Joralemon.

  • Justin

    In case anyone’s interested, here’s a little more info I had:
    153 Joralemon Street was originally the home of Dr. John George Johnson and his wife, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Carpenter Ludlow Johnson. Dr. Johnson was born in Andover, MA in 1833 and graduated from Harvard in 1854 and from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York in 1857. He became house surgeon for Bellevue Hospital that year and served as a surgeon during the Civil War. He also worked at Long Island College Hospital, served as editor of the New York medical journal and worked as a gynecologist. He and his wife were living at 153 Joralemon Street by 1888, but I suspect it was constructed between 1860 and 1870. In 1889 he was accused of assaulting one of his female patients, but was acquitted. He was also arrested for an altercation with a train conductor in 1891, but was again acquitted. His wife died in 1909 and in 1913, at age 80, he married his housekeeper, a 30 year old named Emmaline “Emma” Bellows Roe. Dr. Johnson died at home of ‘senile debility’ in 1917, leaving 5 million dollars to several relatives. Emma lived there until 1922 and it was converted to apartments sometime between 1922 and 1926 by the architectural firm of Slee and Bryson. Emma died in 1937.

  • Dan

    This house should really be thought of as a four story building, at least originally. You can see where the original entrance, up the now removed front steps, was torn off, and a big window substituted. This is a very common phenomenon all over Brooklyn. The level that’s now the second floor would then have been the “parlor floor”. The second and third floors would have been bedrooms, and the top floor would have been servants quarters.
    There was another craze for denuding buildings of ornamentation around 1980. There were a couple of instances of stone work getting loose and falling on people, causing serious injury, on the upper west side of Manhattan. This caused building owners all over the city to trash the facades of beautiful structures. The lower end of Prospect Park West has some egregious examples of this.

  • Jim

    thanks for the history…love it !!!

  • bornhere

    Justin — Your excellent bit of historic information inspired me to do some quick searching, and according to a piece in the 2/7/13 Brooklyn Eagle, Dr. Johnson was also in charge of the Brick and White Hospitals in Sharpsburg during the Battle of Antietam. Thanks for adding to my appreciation of yet another piece of local detail!

  • Jorale-man

    There’s a good story in today’s NYT about homeowners replacing the torn-off stoops on brownstones: