8. DeGraw Mansion had the first private elevator in all of Brooklyn

DeGraw Mansion in Cobble Hill
DeGraw Mansion under renovation

The DeGraw Mansion, located at 219 Clinton Street, was built in 1845, with a tower added in 1891 to see the harbor. It was built for Abraham J. S. DeGraw, a wealthy Manhattan commission merchant who lived with his merchant father John DeGraw. The redesign occurred under the wealthy Laura E. and Ralph L. Cutter, the home’s second owners, who hailed from New England. The Cutters added an extra story to the building as well as stepped gables on the roof. The Greek Revival home has Romanesque Revival and Neo-Flemish additions and was landmarked in 1969.

Perhaps the most significant feature of the home was its elevator in the tower, the first electric passenger elevator in a private home in Brooklyn. New York City played a major role in elevator history: Elisha Otis showcased his safety elevator design at the New York exposition in the Crystal Palace, and the first such elevator was installed in 1857 at 488 Broadway. The Equitable Life Building likely was the first office building with an elevator, installed in 1870. Although the DeGraw Mansion’s elevator is not as famed, it is still a significant architectural feature in one of Cobble Hill’s prized buildings.