A Very, Very, Very Fine House: The Stories Behind Five of Brooklyn’s Most Interesting Houses


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232 Clinton Avenue,
Clinton Hill
Charles Pratt was a trendsetter. After he hired the architect Ebenezer L. Roberts to build this mansion for him in 1874, other wealthy oil executives and businessmen followed, and soon Clinton Avenue was one of the richest and most opulent residential streets in the nation.

Pratt was also a generous man—he founded and endowed nearby Pratt Institute, and built three other mansions on Clinton Avenue as wedding gifts for his sons. (They’re now all landmarked as part of the Clinton Hill Historic District.) But 232 is the pièce de résistance—a stately, unshowy, brick and brownstone mansion, constructed in the Italianate style, with Neo-Grec elements. The inside was similarly tasteful, with High Victorian details in the floors, woodwork, and painted ceilings.
Pratt lived in the mansion until 1890, when he moved to his country estate in Glen Cove, Long Island. Afterward, Herbert Lee Pratt, one of Charles’ sons, lived in the house for a while; his tenure is perhaps most noted for his installation of a huge statue on the parlor floor, said to be the largest representation of a bison in bronze ever.

The youngest Pratt son, Harold, was the last to live in the house; he left in 1916. In the 1930s, the family sold the house to St. Joseph’s College. It is now named Founder’s Hall and houses the college’s faculty nuns.

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