Prospect Park South

Rescue Me: Prospect Park South’s 80 Rugby Road, scorched by fire

Eye On Real Estate

August 13, 2014 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Home Is Where the Heart Is: The Nicholsons long to return to 80 Rugby Road, which was damaged by fire in November 2012. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Fire. Foreclosure. Eviction.

Awful afflictions, all of them.

They have left their mark on prime properties in sought-after Brooklyn neighborhoods, a stamp still visible in certain spots though our post-recession real estate markets get more prosperous by the minute.

Here is one such building which seems like it has “Rescue Me” written all over it.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

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Every day, Bishop Wharton Nicholson holds a prayer meeting about his family’s home in landmarked Prospect Park South, which was damaged by a fire in November 2012.

The boarded-up windows and charred upper floors of 80 Rugby Road, which is situated on a prominent corner of Church Avenue, command the attention of passersby.

“It’s very ugly now,” Nicholson, a bishop of the World Missions Assembly, said of the once-beautiful Victorian Flatbush home, which suffered $1.2 million in damage.

The problem isn’t money. There’s insurance to pay for the fix-up: “The money is in the bank,” said Grace, his wife.

They’ve spent the past year working to get the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s permission to proceed with rehab plans. Finally, after an hour-and-a-half meeting with architects and two of the commissioners six weeks ago, Wharton Nicholson thinks they’ll soon get the preservation agency’s go-ahead to proceed.

Windows in the house, which is more than a century old, are three inches wider than windows made today, he said. It will cost $2,000 extra — per window — to have the replacements specially made.

“I think there are 27 windows,” the bishop said. Still, “it’s cheaper than paying rent.”

For the past 21 months, he and his family have been leasing a place to live in Canarsie.

“It feels like camping out,” Grace said. “We miss home.”

If all goes well, the restoration will be done by the end of September, her husband hopes.

“This is what you go through if there is a fire in a landmarked house,” he said. “When we bought the house 25 years ago, we didn’t know anything about landmarks.”

Nicholson family members purchased the house in 1989, city Finance Department records indicate.

Prospect Park South Historic District was designated as a landmarked neighborhood in 1979.

By the way, the Nicholsons’ home is on the same block as an eye-catching Swiss chalet-style house at 100 Rugby Road that sold in June for a handsome $2.1 million, Finance Department records show.


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