Brooklyn Structure: An enthralling “Previous English” hidden patio

For those who love searching for architectural surprises in the nooks and crannies of Brooklyn, a hidden street is always a treat. Brooklyn has a number of tiny streets, including Barwell Terrace, which is on 97th Street between 3rd and 4th streets in Bay Ridge.

Located off a public residential street, Barwell Terrace is an unusual, private street in Brooklyn – not a stables or a cul-de-sac at street level, but a private little oasis that is only accessible via a brick staircase from 97th Street.

Brooklyn Architecture Barwell Terrace Bay Ridge

The small complex was completed in 1926 and includes 18 single-family houses, two with entrances on 97th Street and the rest with entrances to the terrace.

Brooklyn Architecture Barwell Terrace Bay Ridge

The houses that were declared “Old English” on sale match the “historic” residences of Tudor and Storybook that were popular in the early 20th century. There’s a bit of timber framing, decorative brickwork, arched doors, and quaint roof lines.

Brooklyn Architecture Barwell Terrace Bay Ridge

The private terrace is narrow and selectively divided over a landscaped median. Each house has a stamp-sized garden that overlooks the patio – some grassy and others now paved.

Brooklyn Architecture Barwell Terrace Bay Ridge

Unusually for Brooklyn, the back of the houses are lined with alleyways that allow access to the garages – a convenience that was famous for promoting the houses in the 1920s and is still a bonus for homeowners today.

Brooklyn Architecture Barwell Terrace Bay Ridge

Inside, the houses had steam heating, but also atmospheric wood-burning fireplaces. Advertisements of the time listed other interior details, including parquet floors, breakfast nooks, and tiled showers.

Brooklyn Architecture Barwell Terrace Bay Ridge

1926 advert for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

When they first launched in 1926, it was priced at $ 9,750 – that’s about $ 134,000 in 2017. One of the corner houses sold for $ 745,000 that spring.

Brooklyn Architecture Barwell Terrace Bay Ridge

One of the tiny terrace’s famous residents was appropriately named Pee Wee. Brooklyn Dodger Pee Wee Reese and his family lived on the patio in the 1950s. A former Reese family babysitter told Brownstoner that Pee Wee rented 9714 Barwell Terrace until 1957.

The complex was recently in the news as one of four private Brooklyn streets near the end of their garbage collection. After 80 years of trolley garbage collection, the Department of Sanitation decided that homeowners must now take their garbage to the nearest street so that it can be picked up by truck.

[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]

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