New L.P.C. Designation, and a History Lesson

StatenIslLandmark New L.P.C. Designation, and a History Lesson

The Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday designated the Mark W. Allen House, at 665 Clove Road in Staten Island, a landmark. Built in 1920-1, it’s a handsome example of a Craftsman home in the residential section of West New Brighton, an area developed in the 1920’s by the Competent Home Building Corporation (what a great, easy-to-understand company name!). It was built for Mark W. Allen, a principal in the company who served in the New York State Senate in 1923-24 and ran unsuccessfully for Staten Island Borough President in 1929.

Craftsman homes were popular in the U.S. from 1900 to the 1930’s, arising out of the Arts and Crafts movement in Europe, which was a reaction against the industrial revolution and mass production that, critics said, devalued workers and stripped creativity and the human touch. U.S. furniture designer Gustav Stickley was a proponent of the Arts and Crafts movement, and published his Craftsman magazine from 1900 to 1916, which featured plans for homes influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

Craftsman homes are low-slung bungalows which make extensive use of local wood and stone, have street-facing gables with composition or shingled roofs, wide overhanging eaves, dark wood paneling, an arched opening that separates the living and dining rooms, and built-in cabinetry. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School is closely identified with the Arts and Crafts movement and Craftsman-style homes.

-Matthew Grace