A Brownstone House Tour: A Chance To Gloat Or An Attempt To Inspire?

The brownstone house tour is a great chance to see what’s out there—or what you can’t have.

By Jeff Vasishta September 20, 2016

[otw_shortcode_dropcap label=”O” font=”Bowlby One SC” color_class=”otw-black-text” background_color_class=”otw-no-background” size=”large” border_color_class=”otw-no-border-color”][/otw_shortcode_dropcap]h, the Brownstone. It’s the quintessential Brooklyn status symbol. Maybe you have walked by, covetously looking up those steps and dreaming of a day you can walk up them without anyone calling the police.

Or maybe you actually live in one with its original details; cove moldings, floor to ceiling mantels and wainscoting. Old mirrors, silver and glinting in cognac colored light. They were once the kind of houses that middle class minority families lived in, kids growing up, making secret nooks from their woody catacombs.

Related: Stop In The Name Of Love: Can Gentrifying Harlem Pause To Honor Its Past?

Now, of course, with Brooklyn house prices rising faster than commuter’s hackles during a rush hour subway delay, the brownstone has been elevated to a rarified echelon. The concept of the brownstone house tour has taken on a new significance too.

Photo courtesy of Viktoria Kovacheva via Brownstoner

For new wealthy brownstone homeowners, the house tours could perhaps be seen as sanctioned gloating, a kind of “look what I’ve got” exercise. For the attendees, it’s a chance to see how the other half, or perhaps more accurately, the one percent live. The downside is paranoia. In the internet age, allowing strangers with camera phones into your most intimate environment is a daunting prospect. It’s why the Brooklyn Heights Brownstone tour shuttered its two inch oak doors this year. There are, thankfully, those who are only interested in design and architecture and are fascinated at just how inventive people can get within the confines of these stately woody homes. They, too now how a voice.

Brooklyn Heights will be hosting its own decorator showcase in a spectacular townhouse all in the name of good taste and charity. The aim is to shine a light on Brooklyn interior designers. Debuting in the spring of 2017, The Brooklyn Heights Designer Showcase will replace that neighborhood’s annual house tour. Proceeds as before will go to the Brooklyn Heights Association, which helped landmark the Brooklyn neighborhood as the city’s first historic district. Of course, the Heights of today is a very different neighborhood from the one that celebrated its first house tour 31 years ago. And wouldn’t we all love to have bought one of those house back then?

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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