Image from Library of Congress
After noticing how many “fake” mews there are around New York, we decided to look into actual mews that have been preserved from the 19th century. Before the automobile, when the only way to get around was on a horse or being draw by one in a carriage, horses inhabited the city and actually played a huge role in its functioning. These valuable horses needed stables where they could rest and be cared for, so owners bought land and built rows of stables and carriage houses–also known as mews.
When the automobile took over and the mews were no longer needed many of these rows were destroyed, but thankfully some were converted for residential or commercial purposes. Converted mews and carriage houses that have been carefully preserved give us a glimpse into the past; a New York lost to the modern age. Here we share 9 of NYC’s remaining mews.
Rediscovering Old New York
Want to learn more about Old New York? Join our upcoming virtual talk with author Katherine Manthorne and explore the lost buildings of 19th-century New York through the sketches of a pioneering female artist!
10. Verandah Place, Brooklyn
Verandah Place in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill Historic District is a charming little street that seems to transport one back to the neighborhood’s mid-nineteenth century origins. Rather than being frozen in time, however, its attractive character is due not only to the small scale of its quaint rowhouses, but also to the adjoining park that was created in the 1960s and which both altered and enhanced its historic context.
More a mews for the horse drawn carriages of Brooklyn’s past than a proper street, Verandah Place (also sometimes spelled Veranda Place) is a block and a half long and just 20 feet wide, including the narrow sidewalk along its south side. It was created as a service alley as the area urbanized and the street grid was laid out in the years prior to the Civil War.
Between Henry and Clinton streets its south side is lined with a picturesque row of small brick residences, mostly three stories, that are built up to the sidewalk. Some of these structures were originally built as stables and later converted to residential use and others were built as homes for local workers and originally referred to as cottages. Ironically, there are no verandahs to be found on this street.