|John Rankin House
440 Clinton Street
This Greek Revival town house is exceptionally well preserved as the F.G. Guido Funeral Home. The mansion was built in 1840 by the merchant John Rankin in a sparsely developed part of South Brooklyn, commanding a fine view of the harbor. Francis Morrone says, "Its Greek Revival style dispenses with the effete embellishments of the Federal style. Greek Revival was manlier. When one hears 'Greek Revival mansion', perhaps something on the order of a southern plantation house comes to mind. This is in some ways the South Brooklyn equivalent. There is no columned porch, no air of mint juleps on the verandah, such as one may find in the Greek Revival South. There is, rather, an air of stolidity, sobriety, and, indeed, mercantile austerity in this plain and imposing brick house. It is as close as any rich man's house of the era, perhaps anywhere in the country, came to being an unadorned box.Yet interest is sustained by the very simple molding of the façades, in the form of the strong end pilasters, the ever-so-slightly projecting center bay, and the fine Greek Revival entrance."
The John Rankin House was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1970. The New York Community Trust mounted a plaque on the house the following year, which says, "When it was built, about 1840, this mansion was surrounded by farmland and commanded a magnificent view of the Upper Bay. John Rankin, the original owner, was an affluent Brooklyn merchant. Little altered since its construction, and retaining its original ironwork, this building is one of the finest Greek Revival residences in the City, with full height brick pilasters, symmetrically placed windows and a handsome central doorway."
Excerpts from, An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn, by Francis Morrone, published in 2001 by Gibbs Smith. Used with the author's permission