History of the Brownstone

Browsing around my new favourite shop, I found this wonderful book, Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Townhouse 1783-1929 (Classical America Series in Art and Architecture) by Charles Lockwood:

(It’s $20 cheaper on Amazon, which I know isn’t a very supportive thing to say for local shops, but we did buy all our kitchen furniture from them – although we are still waiting for the fourth chair to be delivered).

The H1B and I lay in a post-dinner slump on our parquet floor last night (still eating turkey leftovers from our blow-out Thanksgiving supper at Fatty Cue), drinking rioja out of our Duralex glasses, and wondered again how our three rooms originally fitted into the scheme of the house.

I found some excerpts from the book online, which help to put our parlour level into context (our apartment is the ground floor, that is the one above the basement, and is exactly this layout):

Cross section of a brownstone from Charles Lockwood's book

In an era of large families and several live-in servants, the sixteen-room, five-story-tall brownstone-front combined grand parlors for entertaining and spacious living quarters for the family and, with its many floors, offered privacy for parents, children, and servants.

This is what our apartment could have looked like in its original get-up (though the parquet floor and fireplace are much more fancy and our doorways don’t have those fine wooden mouldings):

Interior of a late 1900s brownstone from Bricks & Brownstones (Charles Lockwood)


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