The Greek Revival house, once home to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, needed more than just a simple renovation to function in the 21st century.

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.

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