I wish I could have gotten a better photo of what I consider to be a magnificent building, but the lighting and shadows were against me, as was a bit of sidewalk shed protecting pedestrians from falling debris generated by renovation work on the building at the corner of Court and Remsen. “Magnificent?” I know some readers are thinking. “That old pile?” Old it is, completed in 1887. It was designed by Parfitt & Parfitt, two English brothers who also gave us the Montague and the Grosvenor, on Montague Street. I’ll also confess that I have a love for Victorian Romanesque architecture, of which I think this is a fine example. In 2012, its history was related as a Brownstoner Building of the Day.
As for its recent history, when I arrived in the Heights in 1983 it was the National Headquarters of the NAACP. After the NAACP departed for Baltimore, the building was taken over by the Little Flower Children’s Services. Then it became vacant, and has remained so for some years. I kept hoping St. Francis College, its next door neighbor to the west, would find some use for it. Now, according to this New York YIMBY post, it’s been acquired by Upventures LLC, who have filed plans for a fourteen story hotel on the site. The plans do not contemplate keeping the existing building and adding to it, but demolition plans have not yet been filed.
186 Remsen, which is between Court and Clinton streets, is outside the Heights Historic District, but it is inside the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, which means that any plan to demolish 186 Remsen would need approval of the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.