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A Salon-Inspired Brownstone Bang in the Middle of Brooklyn's Most Famous Neighborhood

By: Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza House Tours

An arena for intellectual discourse invented and perfected by women of 17th- and 18th-century France, the salon was a pivotal social, academic, and political liberator for women in male-dominated Europe. Their purpose was to facilitate and inspire discourse on social, cultural, and political issues—and to show off their impeccable taste.

One of the most famous modern salons would emerge in the early 20th century at the Parisian home of American writer Gertrude Stein, who would open her art-lined living space at 27 rue de Fleurus to her fellow ex-pats and artists. Like her predecessors’, Stein’s salon was known for its collection of famous art, hung floor-to-ceiling in the baroque style, and for its ample seating for the bands of thinkers who come spilling in for the booze and the repartee.

At 773 Hancock Street in Brooklyn sits a three-story brownstone, its Richardsonian arched entrance is set into the chocolatey facade and gated by a pair of white, glass-paned doors. The front windows haloed by Victorian stained-glass lunettes. Step inside and understand that magical appeal of the French salon: walls and doorways piped with all kinds of ornate moldings and wainscoting, floors in dark cherry-red hardwood parquet, punched-tin ceilings, and animal print carpets, and just cram jam full objet d’art.

The formal sitting room just off the main entryway is crowned by a grand crystal chandelier and coffered ceiling.

A fully stocked wet bar in an old butler’s pantry links the ground-floor sitting room and eat-in kitchen.

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