Carroll Gardens Historic District
The Carroll Gardens Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Carroll Gardens Historic District includes over 160 buildings, primarily two- and three-story rowhouses, lining President and Carroll Streets between Smith and Hoyt Streets in Central Brooklyn. They were constructed in separate groups within the twenty years from the 1860s to the 1880s in response to the rapid industrialization of this area. The boundaries are those established by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1973.
The rowhouses within the Carroll Gardens Historic District are mostly residential, though shops occupy the first floors of the houses on Smith Street. A church was previously located within the Carroll Gardens Historic District on the north side of Carroll Street, but burned several years ago. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the construction of new rowhouses on this site. The buildings retain the scale, material, and setback of the older rowhouses within the district.
The houses within the Carroll Gardens Historic District are constructed of brownstone in the late Italianate and neo-Grec styles. Those on President and Carroll Streets have uniform setbacks from the street with fenced front yards and landscaped gardens. The careful relationship of stoop heights and cornice levels among the two- and three-story buildings unifies the design. Carroll and President Streets are dead ends between Hoyt Street on the east and Smith Street on the west. This street arrangement contributes to the Carroll Gardens Historic District's sense of intimacy and isolation from the surrounding neighborhood.
A few of the rowhouses have been altered. Stoops have been remodeled or redesigned, entrances changed, and occasionally an extra story added. In some cases the original cornices have been replaced by masonry parapets and some houses have been re-sided with brick veneer or perma-stone. Despite these changes the Carroll Gardens Historic District retains its 19th-century residential character due to the scale of the row, the uniform setback of the houses, their spacious and beautiful front gardens, and the careful preservation and restoration of original architectural details.
The Carroll Gardens Historic District is architecturally significant as a largely intact, cohesive residential neighborhood containing distinctive examples of popular late nineteenth century architectural styles. The Carroll Gardens Historic District was developed during a short period of time between the 1860s and the 1880s and is a notable result of the cooperation of different builders in employing uniform setbacks, scale and materials and in choosing complementary designs for the rowhouses, mainly in the late Italianate and neo-Grec styles. The Carroll Gardens Historic District is especially distinguished for its unusually deep building lots (a result of the area's original layout in the 1840s) which allowed for fenced front yards and landscaped gardens and created a sense of open space unusual in New York City's urban environment. Despite alterations to individual structures, the Carroll Gardens Historic District retains almost complete integrity of plan and scale, thus recalling the unique ambience that has distinguished the neighborhood since its initial development.
The uniformity of the setback, the careful accommodation of one style to another throughout the district, and the care taken to maintain even cornice lines and stop levels were the products of considerable cooperation among the builder of Carroll Gardens. As sections of the rows were constructed during the twenty years between the 1860s and the 1880s by different builders, this successful attempt to maintain a sense of unity among the buildings is very significant.
Carroll Gardens Historic District is a reminder of the mid-19th century building boom in South Brooklyn which was spurred by the rapid industrialization of the Red Hook and Gowanus areas. In addition, the proximity of the area to the commercial center of Manhattan also encouraged the development of residential neighborhoods in the mid-19th century. Many of these areas have now been obscured by the expansion of commercial activity and increasingly larger residential buildings. Carroll Gardens Historic District remains today as an exceptionally well-preserved example of Brooklyn rowhouse development as a distinct, self-contained, architecturally unified community that illustrates an unusually spacious urban planning scheme.
Stiles, Henry R. The Civil, Political, Professional and Ecclesiastical History and Commercial and Industrial Record of the County of Kings and the City of Brooklyn, N.Y. from 1683-1884. New York: W.W. Munsell & Company, 1884.
Weld, Ralph Foster. Brooklyn is America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1950.