Five years ago, Jessica and Doug Warren bought 280 Washington Avenue, one of two 19th-century Clinton Hill mansions built by the Pfizer family, and restored its grandeur. “We fell in love with 280, and always knew that we could not have all of this space to ourselves,” Jessica tells us. So, calling it a “boarding house,” they’ve been renting out rooms, bed and breakfast-style, as well as regularly hosting art, dance, music, film, and literary events. At first, “we didn’t know exactly what to do with it, but we had a few ideas,” Jessica tells us. “We did joke about opening a B&B called The Notorious BnB, but neither of us really took it very seriously.
“Before we started renovating in 2007, we let our 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son curate all-ages music shows. We had bands and hundreds of kids and crowd-surfing in the basement. My husband was afraid that the kids would wander around our then-unsafe house, so he made signs that said STFO, for ‘stay the fuck out.’ The name stuck, and kids started calling the house STFO. If you google STFO Brooklyn, you’ll get images of the shows. We were hooked. I should mention that we also had amazing neighbors who not only did not call the police, but who came over to check out the music. Best neighborhood ever!
“We started renting rooms on Airbnb.com in part because our daughter left for college and we had room to spare—we do not want to have a big empty house!—and because we love Brooklyn and thought it would be a cool way for visitors to see the borough… I thought, because Brooklyn was getting so much press about the food movement and its return to a 19th-century sensibility, that ‘Boarding House’ sounded, well, old, and fit with the current vibe. I still wonder if we should have named it The Notorious BnB. For now, the two-room suite is called ‘The Biggie.’”
280 Washington Avenue, Clinton Hill