Brownstone

Brownstone is a brown Triassic sandstone which was once a popular building material. The term is also understood to be a terraced house (rowhouse) clad in this material.

Brownstone dwellings

In Boston and New York City, a "brownstone" is understood to be a terraced house (rowhouse) clad in brownstone. These brownstone apartments typically have stairways which lead from the sidewalk to a second-floor apartment entrance, a design originally intended to avoid bringing in the mud and horse droppings commonly found at street level, a problem that existed when these apartments were built and horses roamed the streets. Boston's brownstones are abundant in the Back Bay neighborhood and along Commonwealth Ave, where many have been converted to shops or apartment-style housing. Most were built as luxury townhouses during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. New York City brownstones tend to be found in certain older neighborhoods, which are perhaps most common in Brooklyn. For example, the neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant has the largest inventory of brownstones in the entire City of New York, followed closely by Park Slope. Many brownstones have been renovated in recent years, leading to (and/or as a result of) gentrification in areas like Park Slope, Bedford Stuyvesant and Fort Greene.

In Chicago, a brownstone typically refers to a free-standing house, originally built for a single family, clad in brownstone. While many Chicago brownstones have subsequently been split into multiple rental or condominium units, many others remain single-family homes.

Philadelphia has an abundant number of brownstones. Due to urban renewal, brownstones are developing in Detroit as well.

Popular culture

Rex Stout's fictional detective Nero Wolfe lives in a luxurious and comfortable New York City brownstone on West 35th Street. In the television show "I Love Lucy" (1951–1957), the Ricardos lived in a converted Brownstone apartment building on New York's East 68th Street owned by their friends the Mertzes. On the popular American television program "The Cosby Show" (1984–1992), the affluent Huxtable family, the show's central characters, lived in a Brooklyn brownstone. Carrie Bradshaw, the protagonist of "Sex and The City", resided in a brownstone at a fictitious Upper East Side address in New York City.

The term brownstone may also be used as slang for heroin, particularly in the United States; "Mr. Brownstone" is a Guns N' Roses song about heroin use. This could be related to brownstone neighborhoods in Harlem where dealers were likely to live, as in the lyrics of the Velvet Underground song, "I'm Waiting for the Man". Although the idea is popular though, it is highly disputed amongst GNR fans. Prior to success, members of the band Izzy and Axl were said to have lived in West Lafayette, IN. It is a common belief that while residing in this city, members of the band bought heroin from a dealer living in Brownstone apartments. Brownstone apartments is located on the 500 block of Russell st. in West Lafayette, IN a few blocks from Purdue's campus to this day.

Notable types of brownstone

Apostle Island brownstone

In the 19th century Basswood Island was the site of a quarry run by the Bass Island Brownstone Company which operated from 1868 into the 1890s. The brownstone from this and other Apostle Islands quarries was in great demand, and brownstone from Basswood Island was used in the construction of the first Milwaukee County Courthouse in the 1860s. [ [http://www.nps.gov/apis/quarries.htm NPS.gov: Stone Quarries of the Apostle Islands] ]

Hummelstown brownstone

Hummelstown brownstone is extremely popular along the East Coast of the United States of America, with numerous government buildings from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Delaware being faced entirely with the stone. The stone comes from the Hummelstown Quarry in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, a small town outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Hummelstown Quarry is the largest provider of brownstone in along the east coast. Typically the stone was transported out of Hummelstown through the Brownstone and Middletown Railroad or taken by truck up to the Erie Canal.

ee also

*dimension stone
*Railroad apartment
*sandstone
*Hummelstown Brownstone Company

External links

*Website devoted to the [http://www.nps.gov/apis/quarries.htm Apostle Island brownstone quarries] in Wisconsin.
*Website devoted to the [http://www.brownstone.us Weser brownstone quarries] from Germany being imported into the US.
*Link to Brownstone Manufacturer [http://stonecleft.com Brownstone Fabricator] in New York.
*Link to Brownstone Supplier [http://brownstone.us Natural Brownstone] US and Canada


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  • Brownstone — Brown stone , n. 1. A dark variety of sandstone, much used for building purposes. [1913 Webster] 2. a building, especially a dwelling, faced with brownstone[1]. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • brownstone — [broun′stōn΄] n. 1. a reddish brown sandstone, used for building 2. a house with a facade of brownstone …   English World dictionary

  • brownstone — ► NOUN N. Amer. 1) a kind of reddish brown sandstone used for building. 2) a building faced with such sandstone …   English terms dictionary

  • brownstone — UK [ˈbraʊnˌstəʊn] / US [ˈbraʊnˌstoʊn] noun Word forms brownstone : singular brownstone plural brownstones 1) [uncountable] a type of reddish brown stone, often used for building The original structure was built from brownstone in 1862. 2)… …   English dictionary

  • brownstone — noun a) A variety of brown to red brown sandstone once popular as a building material. We tried to buy a Brooklyn brownstone that needed some work, but couldn’t make the down payment. b) A row house built of brownstone, especially in New York… …   Wiktionary

  • Brownstone — Brownstones à Harlem (New York) Une brownstone est un grès rouge du Trias utilisé pour la construction de maisons urbaines. Les premières brownstones sont édifiées au milieu du XIXe siècle dans la ville de New York. La pierre fut utilisée dans le …   Wikipédia en Français

  • brownstone — brown|stone [ braun,stoun ] noun 1. ) count a building made of red brown stone, especially one built in the U.S. in the past: He lives in a brownstone in Brooklyn. 2. ) uncount a type of red brown stone, often used for building: The original… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • brownstone — noun Date: 1846 1. a reddish brown sandstone used for building 2. a dwelling faced with brownstone …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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