Garden City Row Houses in Hellerau, Germany

Sometimes we discover things quite randomly here at The Urban Rowhouse. One of our new-found favorite places for inspiration is Pinterest. If you haven’t seen our RowHouse Magazine board, please check it out. Our pins represent both what we’ve written about on this blog as well as row houses we’ve seen on other boards.

Garden Town Hellerau: Row of Houses © Christoph Münch @ www.marketing.dresden.de

Garden Town Hellerau: Row of Houses © Christoph Münch @ http://www.marketing.dresden.de – The row of houses in Hellerau was created by Richard Riemerschmid who made the development plan for the garden town.

Recently, I came across photos from the garden city of Hellerau, now part of Dresden, in Germany. In general, garden cities are a unique type of planned, semi-urban residential development that were conceived by urban planners who thought if you combined the best of what the city had to offer, with the benefits of living in the country, it would pretty much be a nirvana of living. As a result, garden cities are highly conceptually planned districts, that are typically very beautiful and very well thought out.

In the best plans, there is typically a variety of homes represented to cater to several income levels so that laborers could live along with the managers and owners, conveniently within close distance to the workshops and factories. As a result, many garden cities, including Hellerau and Forest Hills Gardens in Queens, New York, have row houses.

The concept of garden cities was conceived by English social theorist Ebenezer Howard who, after seeing cities ravaged by the Industrial Revolution, thought there was a better way for people to live; more in harmony with each other, their environment, and their livelihood. In his book, “Garden Cities of To-morrow” (1902 – read it here), he presented an idea for planned communities in balance with enterprise, the environment, and society.

Howard’s work inspired German master carpenter and entrepreneur Karl Schmidt-Hellerau, who happened to need a place to house his growing workforce. Row houses were part of the original four-part concept for Schmidt-Hellerau’s garden city, which also included detached homes, workshops, and community buildings. To design the homes and layout of the community, he enlisted the assistance of several well-known architects of the day, Richard Riemerschmid, Heinrich Tessenow, Hermann Muthesius. (Source: http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_image.cfm?image_id=2154)

Most of the row homes in the area are intact. They are predominantly light-colored stucco with cheerful red roofs and often shutters surrounding the windows. The overall design is clean and works well with the established domestic architecture of the time as well as still looking relevant today. I tried to find an approximate idea of what a row house in Hellerau would cost but there doesn’t seem to be any currently on the market.

To learn more about the garden city of Hellerau, please visit the following websites:

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Just did a review of our statistics for the past few months and I was really surprised and tickled pink to learn that Rowhouse has quite a few readers from outside the United States. I’ve always known that people all over the world live in row houses and we try to feature neighborhoods from other countries as best as we can considering we’re physically stuck in Philadelphia but I had no idea we had as many visitors from other countries as we so.

So far, we’ve written about:

Because row houses occur in nearly every city in the world, obviously we have a lot of work to do to represent the most complete picture of row house awesomeness and those who live in them and love them. If you’re located in a city with great row houses anywhere in the world, please don’t hesitate to reach out and share your row house neighborhoods with us!

Finally, just wanted to say a big thank you for visiting The Urban Rowhouse!

Victorian Row Houses in Richmond, Virginia

A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of a rather interesting row of homes that were angled instead of facing the street head-on. This isn’t the typical type of row people think of but if you’ve got angled streets, this is exactly what sort of row houses you’ll see since it allows for rectangular homes within the plots.

Fan District, Richmond Virginia

The stepped appearance of the row somewhat resembles the edges of a fan so when I was introduced to the Fan District in Richmond, Virginia by our Facebook follower Jeremie B., I thought it was very fitting that the neighborhood moniker fit the appearance of the elevations of the row houses. He provided the photos for this post (thank you!) to show some of these beautiful homes.

The Fan District, or simply “The Fan,” is situated in the West End section of Richmond. The border to the north is Broad Street and to the south, VA 195. Notable areas of interest within the neighborhood include Monument Avenue and VCU’s Monroe Park Campus. The area is predominantly residential and is a protected national historic district.

The Fan is known for its Victorian homes, and is considered to be the most intact Victorian row house neighborhood in the United States. However, The Fan has homes that represent a much wider variety of styles from the late 19th to early 20th Centuries, including:

  • Italianate
  • Romanesque
  • Queen Anne
  • Colonial Revival
  • Tudor Revival
  • Second Empire
  • Beaux-Arts
  • Art Deco
  • Spanish
  • Gothic Revival
  • Bungalow
  • American Arts and Crafts Movement
  • James River Georgian
  • Southern Colonial
  • Jacobethan (Jacobean Revival)

With so many options, there is something for everyone! As the photos show, The Fan offers one beautiful row house after another. If you happen to have a row house in any of those styles, you can get some great ideas for color and style from these shown here.

I was immediately enchanted by the prevalence of porches and front yards which create a garden oasis feel; very elegant and beautiful. However, the homes are also very true to their row house roots; mostly brick, and mostly uniform and consistent.

Historic row houses in The Fan can be somewhat pricey; $500K and upwards on average, for an entire house. Generally, the homes are very well maintained, historically certified, offer mature gardens, and have more than 2,000 square feet of living space. Here is an example of a current home for sale that is similar to those in our photos. There are a few smaller homes that are naturally less expensive and, if you don’t mind sharing your row house, some of the larger homes have been divided into apartments.

The local schools include Fox Elementary School, Binford Jr. High School, and Thomas Jefferson High School. To learn more about The Fan, please visit The Fan District Association website.

The Fan District, Richmond, Virginia

The Fan District, Richmond, Virginia

The Fan District, Richmond, Virginia

The Fan District, Richmond, Virginia

The Fan District, Richmond, Virginia

The Fan District, Richmond, Virginia

The Fan District, Richmond, Virginia

Shared Post: Quality Row Newburgh, NY

Think you need to live in a big city to live in a row house? Nope! They’re all over the place. Large towns, small towns, suburbs… you name it!

We recently were introduced to the town of Newburgh, NY, where they have some lovely row house. Cher Vick from Newburgh Restoration was nice enough to share the following post with us about some beautiful row homes in the town.

On a small block on First Street in the City of Newburgh are a row of homes (112-120) that are kept in amazing condition known as Quality Row. They are really a showpiece for what other blocks in Newburgh have the potential to look like. Although the houses across the street don’t quite look like these, they are a breath of fresh air.

Quality Row Newburgh 3 Quality Row Newburgh

These Federal style houses were designed in 1835 by Thornton Niven and built on land that had been the garden of Rev. John Brown. They are now national historic landmarks. The house at 116 First Street is known as the Clinton-Deyo House. It has a plaque that says that in 1836 Thomas Edison stayed there as a guest while establishing the Edison Illuminating Company. In 1883 it was Newburgh’s first private home to be wired for electricity. It was also wonderfully restored by Don Herron back in 1994. He unfortunately passed away this year.

Quailty Row Newburgh 2 Quality Row Newburgh

So where did the name Quality Row come from anyway? According to the 1891 publication Newburgh: Her Institutions, Industries and Leading Citizens, “At the time of their erection these house were considered much above the average in cost and elegance, and for this reason, combined with the high social standing of the original occupants, the buildings were known throughout the village as “Quality Row,” a designation which still lingers among our old families.” That designation still lingers today, over 100 years later!

Fell’s Point, Baltimore, Maryland

Row houses in Fell's Point, Baltimore, Maryland.

Row houses in Fell’s Point, Baltimore, Maryland.

In the early 18th Century, near the Baltimore harbor, there was a densely wooded area beautifully situated near a natural deep water port. In 1730, an English gentleman named William Fell decided that this would be the perfect place for ship building and related commerce so he established such a center and called it Fell’s Point. Business went well and in the 1760s, his son Edward decided to further develop the area and divided the land into residential plots. Because of the proximity to the shipping business, homes in the area were very popular. By 1797, Fell’s Point was officially part of the new City of Baltimore (wikipedia).

During the following years, Fell’s Point would be a crucial part of the shipping and manufacturing industries in Baltimore. With plentiful employment, Fell’s Point also welcomed a large immigrant population and became a multicultural hub of urban life in the 19th Century. Unfortunately, by the turn of the 20th Century, due to changes in the shipping industry and the migration of manufacturing out of Baltimore, Fell’s Point was an area largely in decline (wikipedia).

During the 1960s, a proposed highway project almost annihilated the waterfront areas. Thankfully, because Fell’s Point is on the National Register of Historic Places and local residents protested, the area was saved. In more recent years, the area has seen a revitalization due to local preservationists work to save the area’s historic buildings and new homeowners who are attracted to the historic row houses and cobblestone streets (wikipedia). To learn more about preservation efforts in Fell’s Point and the neighboring area of Federal Hill, visit the Society for the Preservation of Fells Point and Federal Hill website.

Georgian row house in Fell's Point, Baltimore, MD.

Georgian row house in Fell’s Point, Baltimore, MD.

The historic district of Fell’s Point occupies the area from Gough Street to the waterfront, between Caroline and Chester Streets. It’s well connected to surrounding urban areas by public transportation and expressways. There are over 161 registered historic buildings. Housing is reasonable, ranging from $150,000 (and lower) for a modest, brick row house, to over $1 million for a pristine 18th Century row home in a desirable section (realtor.com). If Federal row houses are your thing, there are many to choose from!

Fell’s Point offers a variety of shops, restaurants, coffee bars, music stores, and because of the maritime history, there are over 120 pubs! There is something for everyone and it’s never a dull moment! To learn more, visit livebaltimore.com/neighborhoods/list/fellspoint/.

If you find yourself in the area, it’s definitely worth checking Fell’s Point out. Local events and tours are featured on the Fell’s Point website.

Row houses in Fell's Point, Baltimore, Maryland.

Row houses in Fell’s Point, Baltimore, Maryland.

Beautiful storefront row houses in Fell's Point, Baltimore.

Beautiful storefront row houses in Fell’s Point, Baltimore.

Some lovely Federal row homes, and a row cafe, in Fell's Point.

Some lovely Federal row homes, and a row cafe, in Fell’s Point.

Federal row houses in Fell's Point, Baltimore, MD.

Federal row houses in Fell’s Point, Baltimore, MD.

A unique corner row house in Fell's Point.

A unique corner row house in Fell’s Point.

Another cafe/pub in Fell's Point.

Another cafe/pub in Fell’s Point.

Photos: Christine Halkiopoulos.

Wooden row house in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

Visiting Wooden Row Houses in Brooklyn

One of my favorite row house neighborhoods in New York is Brooklyn Heights. Not only do we have fond memories from when we lived nearby in Cobble Hill, but Brooklyn Heights has a wonderful range of row houses. I recently found myself in the area and decided to take a few photos of some of my favorites. Unfortunately, I didn’t note the exact addresses as I walked around but these are roughly between Clark, Joralemon, and Court Streets and the Promenade. These represent a small sample as there are quite a few wood-sided row homes in the area.

Wooden row house in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

This home is a wonderful yellow color. The classically influenced lintel’s above the windows are rather unique. To the right is another row house with wood shingle siding.

Wooden row house in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

This is a very wide wood framed row house located at 13 Pineapple Street. Luckily, this home had a picture in one of my architectural guides (“Old Brooklyn Heights,” author Clay Lancaster) to the area so I have some additionally information. Built before 1830, this was likely a Federal home originally. The third floor was added in the middle of the 19th Century. It’s facade is covered with wood shingles.

A wooden row house in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

Fancy iron entrance on this one.

A wooden row house in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

This is a lovely Federal style, wooden row house with small-pane windows.

Related to these, is the blog The Wooden House Project, managed by Elizabeth Finkelstein, a historic preservationist living in Brooklyn’s South Slope. Ms. Finkelstein wanted to build a community to support wooden frame row houses in Brooklyn so she started The Wooden House Project. Like many cities, Brooklyn began to outlaw wood frame row houses during the 19th Century so the survivors are really quite special.

We are always really excited to learn about other people who love row houses and advocate their preservation.

Row Houses in Newburgh, New York

So excited that we were featured on the Newburgh Restoration blog this week! So I visited their blog to see what they’re about and saw this article about row houses:

Row-Row-Row…”A-bode”

There are some wonderful wooden row houses that we don’t get too many of in the city. And it’s nice to see row houses in small towns. Definitely worth checking out there site and reading about what’s new with their row houses!

 

Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Overbrook_Farms_2.JPG

Is Historic Preservation a Good Thing?

Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Overbrook_Farms_2.JPG

An example of a lovely home in Overbrook Farms, Philadelphia. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/File: Overbrook_Farms _2.JPG

First, a big thumbs up to Grid Magazine. I acquired a complementary copy at my gym and was very surprised to find a variety of nice articles about preservation and sustainable living in Philadelphia, including one about historic masonry and how awesome bricks are. And, we all know how much I love bricks. Anyway, visit their website, or look for an issue to pick up. Totally worth the read.

Anytime I see an article about historic neighborhoods I’m going to read it. According to Grid, there is a battle over to designate or not to designate the Overbrook Farms neighborhood as historic. I did a little research and discovered that Overbrook Farms is full of beautiful, mansion-like, homes in various colonial-revival or tudor-revival styles, all built in the late 19th Century. Originally a very affluent area, many homes boast craftsmanship of the highest order. With so many beautiful homes, at least 100 years old, it would only seem natural that the neighborhood would want to protect it’s architectural integrity. However, not every resident is supportive.

The historic designation question is a hot topic. Both those for, and those against, have points worth considering.

Yes to Historic Designation

Homes in historic neighborhoods, especially those that are designated and protected, have higher property values than those in areas that are not designated. Historic homes tend to hold their value better than non-historic homes. Typically homeowners in historically protected areas have to adhere to a set of rules that keeps them from demolishing homes and making inappropriate improvements to their homes. This keeps the neighborhood’s character consistent and intact. A well-established historic neighborhood is very attractive to home buyers interested in the characteristics of a particular neighborhood.

For people who are appreciative of their neighborhood’s stock of architecturally interesting properties, it can be horrifying to watch a careless developer tear down 100+ years of history and put up a McMansion-esk confection iced in cantaloupe colored stucco. It’s especially horrifying if you live in a row of identical homes and that monstrosity is attached to your house (true story!).

The historic designation attracts the sort of homeowner that likely supports conversation and doesn’t mind being told what to do with their house, in the name of preservation. Chances are, they are researching on their own and looking forward to keeping things exactly how they looked when the house was built. This sort of homeowner is going to spend a little more money keeping their home in good condition because it’s not just a house; it’s a mission.

No to Historic Designation

Historic designation will raise the value of your house. Higher value  means higher property taxes. For long-time residents, especially those on fixed incomes, or people just having trouble making ends meet, a jump in the value of their home and the resulting tax increase can be devastating. For the people who may have worked very hard to change a dodgy neighborhood into a vibrant community and now find themselves priced out of their homes, this is a slap in the face.

Once a neighborhood is designated as historic you lose freedom over your house and what you can do with it. Since you paid for your home, you should be able to do whatever you want with it. If your coming into an already established area, you know what you’re getting into. But if not, it’s like having someone snatch your favorite toy away. It’s almost rude! All of a sudden, you need to check with some higher power about what windows or door you can have or what paint colors you can use. Often, maintaining a historic property to specification set by a historic commission is a lot more expensive. Constraints mean owners of inefficient relics can’t take advantage of more environmentally friendly home products and the homes people are trying to protect become drains on the owners wallets and resources.

If there isn’t room to change, then neighborhoods get stale. In urban neighborhoods where many row homes are run down or have been demolished, new row home development is often revitalizing. In our own neighborhood over the last five years we’ve seen quite a few empty lots replaced by new, energy-efficient row homes. The new homes are a vast improvement.

If you make a community too rigid  you will scare away interesting people that make a community exciting. New businesses may also be reluctant to conduct business in an area where they have to adhere to strict rules.

So, What’s Better?

The debate gets very heated. What’s certain is that unless an entire neighborhood is in support of historic designation, the approval and transition of a neighborhood from non-historic to historic won’t be successful.

From our perspective, and we’ve seen a lot of neighborhoods, just because a neighborhood lacks historic designation doesn’t mean that it’s complete chaos. Often, row house neighborhoods do just fine.

Another cafe/pub in Fell's Point.

The Perfect Row House Neighborhood

South Street in Philadelphia, PA.

South Street in Philadelphia, PA.

I’ve lived in three great row house cities: New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Say what you will about the quirks and negative things, all three cities have an abundance of row houses. But what makes a really great row house neighborhood? What if we started from scratch?

Creating the Ideal
Row House Neighborhood

We can start with William Penn’s original concept for Philadelphia. Arranged in a neat rectangle-shaped grid, the avenues were wide, and the spacious lots allowed for each home to have a garden. He wanted the city to be situated near commerce and tradespeople but the outlying areas to remain pastoral. William Penn was wise  to design public green spaces into the city. Even a small park is a wonderful asset. Along with quiet places, playgrounds are also requirements for a good quality of life for many types of residents. Larger parks are great for concerts and sports.

Penn wasn’t very keen on the idea of crowded, attached dwellings because in Europe many large cities had been plagued by huge fires that consumed much of the urban areas, so he made sure to allow for a lot of elbow room in his concept. If Philadelphia hadn’t gone through the population boom that it did, Philadelphia might have stayed as spacious as Penn intended. However, people wouldn’t have built homes between the blocks and we wouldn’t have the wonderful small streets that we have here. The small, in-between streets are often hidden from main roads and provide privacy and intimacy that you don’t get when your house faces a busy street. People who live in on such streets often form mini-communities. These small blocks are wonderful for children since cars aren’t always zipping by. A balance between the broader streets and avenues, and the small alleys and narrow blocks, provide a nice variety of options in the ideal row house neighborhood.

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York

Court Street, a main shopping thoroughfare in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York.

The corner delicatessen is a staple in New York City. Often, the first act of independence for an urban child is the unaccompanied trip to the corner store. These small mom-and-pop establishments are usually run by local people and nearby residents frequent them daily. Often, you will run into your neighbors and get a quick update on the local news and gossip. A vital part of any urban neighborhood is its community and the corner deli, or coffee shop, or nail salon (lately they’re everywhere!) is the essential meeting place.

Of course, it’s nice to go shopping on a larger scale and other great stores to have within walking distance are a bakery, butcher, produce stand, someplace like The Spice Corner (Philly) or Sahadi’s (Brooklyn), a fish monger, shoe repair, dry cleaning, and a hardware store. Most urban row house neighborhoods have a few streets that are lined with stores. In Philadelphia:

  • Fabric row on 4th street
  • The Italian Market on 9th street
  • Passyunk Avenue in South Philly

In Queens New York:

  • Metropolitan Avenue
  • Bell Boulevard

In Brooklyn New York:

  • Court, Smith, and Joralemon Streets

These are just a sample. In well-established row house neighborhoods, there is almost always a main street with shopping. Typically, the stores are built within a row house structure and people live above the shops. Shopping in a row house neighborhood is more like visiting friends.

The ideal row house neighborhood will have readily available services such as a post office, police station, firehouses, banks, veterinarians, hospitals, public elementary schools, public gyms and swimming pools, daycare, places of worship, and public libraries all within walking distance.

Ideally, several row house neighborhoods would be situated around a central urban hub for larger business and municipal buildings, not to mention theaters, zoos, universities, and museums. It goes without saying that any ideal row house city must have a good public transportation system connecting the smaller row house neighborhoods to the city at large.

Aesthetically speaking, not every row house must or should look the same. It’s nice to have variety on different blocks. Materials and size shouldn’t vary too widely within a block but not all blocks need to look alike in order to create a visually pleasing neighborhood. It’s more important to have every house well-kept and every block clean.

Above all, any row house neighborhood needs to be safe. The local government and community must be committed to providing and contributing to this.

Of course, when you live in such an awesome place, you’re going to get guests. I am such a fan of the bed and breakfast. They’re local and work within the structure of a neighborhood, unlike a high rise hotel.

And there you have it. Most of this is readily available in most urban row house neighborhoods, even right here in Philadelphia, which is why I like them so much.

A carriage house in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York

Originally posted Winter 2007.

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, one of the historically protected neighborhoods of New York City. The average age of a house in the area is about 150 years old with some as old as 200 years. Cobble Hill has been around since the 17th century and is located just south of Brooklyn Heights, which is the neighborhood on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The quick commute into Manhattan makes this an ideal neighborhood for people who want to live close to the city but remain removed from the hustle and bustle. Cobble Hill is one of the more quiet sections of New York city. The entire area is almost exclusively row houses and brownstones with a few apartment buildings and stand alone converted carriage houses.

Originally a working class neighborhood, due to the proximity to the New York harbor’s docks, residents now represent all economic strata. A brownstone row house will cost over two million although most have been subdivided into apartments.

Other points of interest include antique row, on Atlantic Avenue where there are several antiques dealers. The specialty food shop Sahadi’s is practically a landmark. They have a wonderful selection of olives and spices. They’re so popular that on holidays the line to enter goes half way down the block.

Over the past ten years the area has undergone a renaissance and many new shops and boutiques open weekly. Despite the growth, the area maintains a small town feel. There is also a strong family orientation and many events for children including the annual Halloween Parade. The neighborhood association is very tight and involved with community affairs adding to the strength of community spirit in this neighborhood.

 

Cobble Hill apartments designed in a townhouse style.

Cobble Hill apartments designed in a townhouse style.

 

Ornate iron railings on a brownstone in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Ornate iron railings on a brownstone in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

 

A carriage house in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

A carriage house in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

 

Traditional row houses facing Cobble Hill Park.

Traditional row houses facing Cobble Hill Park.