Midwood

Come see landmark-worthy West Midwood

April 25, 2018 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Welcome to West Midwood, a landmark-worthy Victorian Flatbush micro-neighborhood. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Eye On Real Estate

A thank you is in order to the late Henry Meyer of Germania Real Estate & Improvement Co.

He bought Jon Lott’s farm and built West Midwood.

Its wood houses, now more than a century old, are irresistibly appealing. There are porches, porches everywhere and eye-catching turrets here and there, plus lawns, garages and driveways.

Many residents want the area to be granted landmarking protection from house teardowns and architecturally incongruous home remodeling — see related story about longtime homeowners Ron and Diane Russo —through the designation of a single historic district that includes West Midwood and five other Victorian Flatbush micro-neighborhoods.

They are Beverley Square East, Beverley Square West, Caton Park, Ditmas Park West and South Midwood.

Pro-preservation residents point out that landmarked and unlandmarked micro-neighborhoods stand beside each other in 2.5-square-mile Victorian Flatbush like patchwork quilt pieces that haven’t been sewn together. They want the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to stitch together the quilt patches with a historic-district designation.

Did you know Flatbush is the site of America’s largest concentration of freestanding Victorian houses? We gleaned this fact from “The 2007-2008 Guide to Victorian Flatbush,” which the Flatbush Development Corp. published.

The boundaries of West Midwood, as proposed for inclusion in a historic district, are Coney Island Avenue, Foster Avenue, the cut through which the Brighton rail line runs and Avenue H.

 

‘Refined, cultured parents’

We need to explain something about West Midwood.

Initially, in the very first years of the 20th century, Germania Real Estate referred to the entire 200-acre Lott’s farm site as South Midwood. In time, various portions of it became known as West Midwood, Midwood Park — which became part of a historic district in 2008 —and South Midwood.

So when the Brooklyn Eagle reported on Nov. 9, 1901 about land grading and site prep in South Midwood, the terrain the story described was in the area that later became known as West Midwood.

As that article spells out, Germania Real Estate’s pace of development on the former Lott’s farm was impressively swift.

“The phenomenal growth of South Midwood can perhaps be best understood when it is stated that since its opening to the public only a year ago, nearly five hundred lots have been sold and 58 houses have been built, practically all of which are now occupied,” the story notes.

Germania Real Estate priced the houses at $7,500 to $12,000. That was pretty similar to what other Victorian Flatbush developers were charging for homes, judging from advertisements we’ve seen in the Eagle’s online archives.

If you want to read electronic copies of Eagle newspapers published from 1841 to 1955, the Brooklyn Public Library has archived them at https://bklyn.newspapers.com/title_1890/the_brooklyn_daily_eagle/  

An unsubtle advertisement to promote South Midwood that Germania Real Estate ran in the Eagle on Sunday, April 7, 1901 might make you laugh a little bit because of its chutzpah.

“Have you a family? Then you want to bring up your children properly, of course,” it says.

“You want them to live away from the riff raff and rabble of the city, in a clean, healthy, quiet section.”

The ad promises there are “trees, shrubs and flowers to purify the air” — and “fine schools where only children of refined, cultured parents attend.”