Brooklyn Heights Walking Tour — Pierrepont Place

Victorian Mansions in Brooklyn Heights

Welcome to a brief walking tour of Pierrepont Place, one of Brooklyn's most elegant streets of 19th-century townhouses.

Pierrepont Place was home to many of Brooklyn's 19th-century wealthy, WASPY movers and shakers. Many of Brooklyn’s unique cultural institutions got their start nearby: the Brooklyn Historical Society (founded under a different name), the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Try to stop at the Brooklyn Historical Society as it's well worth a visit. Plus, it's the the only Pierrepont Place townhouse that tourists can enter. If you'd like to see more of Brooklyn Heights, check out our guides to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and surrounding area or our guide to neighboring DUMBO, a funky arty waterfront industrial area now filled with galleries, a noted theater and a waterfront park. 

Edited by Alison Lowenstein 

 

  • 01 of 08

    Victorian Homes of Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn Heights

    Many Victorian Mansions Line Three Blocks of Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights. Photo © Ellen Freudenheim

    Thanks to the New York City Landmarks Commission (and activist local residents), the facades of the homes on Pierrepont Place appear today as they did decades ago. Simply walking down the street, visitors can get a sense of the closely-packed, yet luxurious townhouse lifestyle enjoyed by wealthy Brooklyn residents of the late 19th century. 
     

     

     

  • 02 of 08
    Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights. Photo © Ellen Freudenheim

    Where: 128 Pierrepont Place

    This 1881 Queene Anne building  is home to the Brooklyn Historical Society and Museum. Perhaps the most important stop on this walking tour, it houses the largest collection of Brooklyn history in the United States.

    Enjoy wonderful exhibits—and a peek into the elegant, old-fashioned wood-paneled library.

    However, check hours before you go; they are open on weekends but closed several days during the week.

  • 03 of 08

    St. Ann's School in Brooklyn Heights

    Plaque at St. Anns, One of Brooklyn's Most Prestigious Private Schools, Honoring Its Colorful Founder, Stanley Bosworth. Photo © Ellen Freudenheim

    Where: 129 Pierrepont Place

    Designed by architect Frank Freeman and built in 1906, this was originally an exclusive gentleman's-only club, called the Crescent Athletic Club. Minorities and women were legally banned from joining this, along with several other noted Brooklyn clubs of the era.  

    History gets its revenge. Today the building houses a highly selective private school that's well known for its consistently progressive philosophy.

  • 04 of 08

    First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights

    First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn, in Brooklyn Heights. Photo © Ellen Freudenheim

    Where: Corner Pierrepont Place at Monroe

    Any historic walking tour of Victorian Brooklyn will likely include churches; Brooklyn was long known as the City of Churches for its many beautiful steepled houses of worship. This neo-Gothic beauty, designed by Lafever and with five Tiffany stained glass windows,  dates to the 1840s. 

    The century-old pipe organ in the First Unitarian Church has been restored. It is still in use.

     

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    The Brooklyn Women's Exchange in Brooklyn Heights Sells Hand Crafted Items. Photo © Ellen Freudenheim
    Where: 55 Pierrepont Place

    This location doesn't boast great architecture, but it houses the only retail space on Pierrepont Place: the Brooklyn Women's Exchange. The Brooklyn Women's Exhange sells a large selection of charming quilts, sweaters, mittens, hats, stuffed animals, and children's clothes. Almost everything is handmade. Given the architectural setting, the store seems appropriately Victorian in its sensibility.

  • 06 of 08

    Numbers 2 and 3 Pierrepont Place Residence in Brooklyn Heights

    Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights. Photo © Ellen Freudenheim

    Near the Promenade overlooking the New York Harbor and lower Manhattan, are two stunning Victorian homes.

    Abiel Abbot Low was the first resident of Number 3 Pierrepont Place. His family’s fortune derived from import-export trade in China.  Low’s son, Seth Low, a talented (and moneyed) politician and administrator, became Columbia University's president. His name graces Low Library. He later became mayor of Brooklyn and then of New York City.

    Number 3 Pierrepont Place was the residence of philanthropist and housing reformer,  Alfred Tredway White.

  • 07 of 08

    To Learn More About Victorian Architecture in Brooklyn

    This exuberantly decorative architecture is typical of the Victorian homes in Prospect Park South, Brooklyn. Photo © Ellen Freudenheim

    Walking Tour of Victorian Prospect Park South: For a self-guided walking tour of a more suburban style of Victorian living in Brooklyn, hop on the subway to see the beautiful landmarked homes in the neighborhood called Prospect Park South. This area is a subway ride from Brooklyn Heights and is far more residential and located deeper into Brooklyn. You can also visit Ditmas Park to check out the architecture. If you do, you must eat at one of the many fantastic restaurants on Cortelyou Street including Mimi's Hummus or The Farm on Adderley

  • 08 of 08
    Historic Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn/Brooklyn Heights, 2011. Image © E. Freudenheim 2012

    Find out about the lovely landmarked seat of Brooklyn's civic government, Borough Hall. Outside scenic Borough Hall is a weekly Farmer's Market and it's also where they host the annual Brooklyn Book Festival.