Molly Salas

Landmark the Willoughby Hart Historic District in Bed-Stuy

Following the demolition of the Jacob Dangler Mansion at 441 Willoughby in July 2022, neighbors came together to seek justice for the building we lost and organize to preserve the legacy of this neighborhood. Through Landmarking a Historic District in this section of Bedford-Stuyvesant, we hope to invite our neighbors to join us to help save the neighborhood from further displacement of generational Black residents. We hope to expand our learnings to preserve other historic buildings and districts throughout Bed-Stuy. Preservation does not just refer to the preservation of architecture, but also of memories and identity of place.

Throughout the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, brownstones and tree-lined streets are being destroyed to make way for anonymous glass new luxury buildings, whose skyrocketing rents displace neighbors and further contribute to the neighborhood’s gentrification.

In the northwest corner of Bed-Stuy, Willoughby Ave and Hart St. between Nostrand and Marcy Aves stand alone as the two remaining blocks of exclusively brownstones. They should be landmarked and should be protected.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission and Chair Sarah Carroll previously neglected their duty by allowing the Jacob Dangler Mansion at 441 Willoughby Ave to be demolished while awaiting a vote on landmark status. Neighbors in this effort came so close to success, and continue to seek accountability from LPC and the developer, Tomer Erlich. Their attempts to landmark this area as a Historic District seek to protect the neighborhood from further destruction and displacement by other developers like him.

Many brownstones in this pocket of Brooklyn have been passed down through family lineage, raising many generations of New Yorkers. It is this familiarity with this place and dedication to continuing the spirit of community here, in addition to its exemplary position alongside the rest of “brownstone Brooklyn”, that contribute to this area’s significant sense of place, making it perfect for landmarking.