For a Brooklyn Heights Townhouse, a Divine Reinvention

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.

“I went with my friend Sharon to look at the place one Saturday morning, after the nuns had moved back to Rome,” he said. “There was a dreamcatcher on a door and a rock carved with the word ‘hope,’ and she said, ‘Oh my God, the nuns’ hopes and dreams are still here.’”

Chasing his own dream of an immaculate townhouse,

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