When Steven Holley found his 1834 Greek Revival townhouse in Brooklyn Heights, it seemed almost like divine intervention.
“It had been owned by the Roman Catholic Church for about a hundred years, and the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor had been living there since 1969,” said Mr. Holley, 63, a partner at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell.
Beaten up, stripped of many period details and cut into a warren of tiny rooms, the townhouse was ready for a complete overhaul — exactly the kind of project he wanted.
Deborah Berke Partners, the architecture firm that designed his beach house in Quogue, N.Y., to help restore the home to its former glory while updating the interior to reflect 21st-century living.
The project represented a significant departure from Mr. Holley’s previous primary home, a 4,000-square-foot loft near Union Square that had been renovated by Hanrahan Meyers Architects in the 1990s, in a style so spare and open — with only glass walls between rooms — that it was featured in “The Un-Private House,” a 1999 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
In Brooklyn Heights, Mr. Holley looked forward to living in a quieter neighborhood, and in a home with softer touches and historic details. Deborah Berke Partners developed a plan to restore the red-brick building, which is in a historic district, to its original design on the exterior, while building a small addition on the roof that is set back from the front facade so it can’t be seen from the street. Inside, the architects aimed to strip everything down to the studs and joists, including removing the old staircase, to start fresh.
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