Come see landmark-worthy Beverley Square East and West
Eye on Real Estate: These Victorian Flatbush micro-neighborhoods are full of fab wood houses
It’s time to stitch together the patches in the quilt.
That’s how preservation advocates describe the micro-neighborhoods that make up Victorian Flatbush.
Why? Because over the years, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission has designated several of them as historic districts. This protects their houses from demolition and replacement with big, modern buildings.
These historic districts are spread all over Victorian Flatbush’s map like patches on a quilt.
This quilt’s other patches are unlandmarked micro-neighborhoods whose homes have equally rich historical and architectural pedigrees.
They are Beverley Square East, Beverley Square West, Caton Park, Ditmas Park West, South Midwood and West Midwood.
In December 2012, the Flatbush Development Corp. and several local groups formally requested that the Landmarks Preservation Commission consider these areas for designation as a single historic district.
A half-decade later, this hasn’t happened.
When will the preservation agency make them a priority?
In a recent letter, Simeon Bankoff, the Historic Districts Council’s executive director, urged Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan “to ‘complete the quilt’ of city designation of these neighborhoods to safeguard their unique context in Brooklyn.”
The Guggenheims built the ‘Honeymoon Cottage’
We spend lots of time walking around Victorian Flatbush. It’s a magnet for real estate nerds, history buffs and Instagram-obsessed photographers.
But we haven’t focused closely on the proposed historic district. Until now.
Recently, we spent the day in two of its photogenic micro-neighborhoods, Beverley Square East and Beverley Square West.
Homes there were built at the beginning of the 20th century by developers who capitalized on the extension of the Brighton Beach Railroad into Manhattan. They turned this part of Brooklyn into suburbs for commuters.
Next week, we’ll show you another landmark-worthy Victorian Flatbush micro-neighborhood called Ditmas Park West.
Both Beverley Square East and Beverley Square West are full of stunning stand-alone wooden houses that are more than a century old. Many have front porches and generously sized lawns. There are lots of driveways and garages, two luxuries that are difficult to find in many parts of Brooklyn.
One especially nifty house is 305 Rugby Road, whose nickname is the Honeymoon Cottage. According to the Historic Districts Council, it “was built for a female member of the Guggenheim family.”
It’s in Beverley Square West.
By the way, the boundaries of Beverley Square East are Beverley Road, East 19th Street, Cortelyou Road and the Brighton rail line, which is located between East 16th Street and Marlborough Road.
The boundaries of Beverley Square West are Beverley Road, the Brighton rail line, Cortelyou Road and Coney Island Avenue.
Thomas Benton Ackerson was a busy builder
Thomas Benton Ackerson played a big role in building both neighborhoods.
He and his three brothers founded T.B. Ackerson Construction Company in 1898.
The development company was responsible for a lot of Victorian Flatbush construction a century ago — including the Avenue H subway station, which looks like a cottage in the Adirondacks. The station at 802 East 16th St. is a designated city landmark.
According to the 2012 landmarking request for historic-district evaluation for the six micro-neighborhoods, Ackerson launched the development of Beverley Square East between 1898 and 1901 by constructing houses on East 19th Street.
According to the Historic Districts Council, the house at 257 East 19th St. served as a model home that was used in Beverley Square East’s marketing and advertising materials.
As for Beverley Square West, Ackerson developed the neighborhood on land that had been Catherine Lott’s farm, which he bought in 1901, the historic-district evaluation request says. He wanted to create a neighborhood where no two houses were alike.
Though it’s hard to imagine today, there was a considerable amount of farmland in the middle of Brooklyn at the end of the 19th century.
Ackerson lived in Beverley Square West at 304 Marlborough Road, which he built in 1903.
Lewis H. Pounds was a busy builder, too
A century ago, Lewis H. Pounds was another prolific Victorian Flatbush builder.
He developed Beverley Square East homes on East 16th, East 17th and East 18th streets in partnership with Delbert H. Decker, the request for landmarking evaluation says.
Pounds was Brooklyn Borough President from 1913 through 1917. He served as New York State Treasurer in the 1920s and was the Republican New York City mayoral candidate in 1932, his 1947 obituary in The New York Times says.
Pounds lived at 317 East 17th St., the obituary notes.
We looked up the ownership history of the house in city Finance Department records — and discovered that it belonged to former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and his wife Patricia between 1966 and 1996.
Recent house sales
To give you an idea of how houses are priced in Beverley Square East and West, we looked up some recent transactions on the Finance Department’s website.
In January, the house at 307 Stratford Road changed hands. The price was $1.84 million, Finance Department records indicate.
In September 2017, the house at 295 Stratford Road changed hands for $1.671 million, Finance Department records show.
In May 2017, 328 Argyle Road was purchased for $1.46 million, the records say.
Holy Innocents Church is included in the proposed historic district
One of the most eye-catching properties in the proposed historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church at 279 East 17th St. in Beverley Square East.
The church on the corner of Beverley Road is made of granite with limestone trim. It was designed by prominent architectural firm Helmle & Corbett and constructed in 1923. Its architectural style is Late Gothic Revival.
A school that’s part of the Holy Innocents complex was built in 1914. A rectory was built in 1923.
Inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places is an important honor. But it doesn’t protect the church complex from alteration or demolition.