Dyker Heights

See Dyker Heights without its famous holiday lights

September 6, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Dyker Heights is in its full late summer splendor, as we can see with this waterfall and statue at 8302 11th Ave., reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Eye on Real Estate: Mediterranean villas, waterfalls, statues and other eye candy

These aren’t vacation snapshots of villas on the Mediterranean.

But if you glance quickly, you might think so.

There are waterfalls, graceful statues, palm fronds in the landscaping and stone and stucco mansions.

Unless you live in the neighborhood where these homes can be found, you might not recognize this scenery in the light of day.

Welcome to Dyker Heights.

Many residents of the tri-state area know what this neighborhood looks like at night, around Christmas, when it’s decked out with its famous holiday lights.

If you haven’t seen the Dyker Lights, they are every bit as amazing as people say they are.

But. When you’re looking for a stellar spot for a warm-weather stroll, Dyker Heights is a great choice.

The best place to find suburban eye candy is the area between 10th and 13th avenues and 80th and 86th streets.

“Suburban” is a fitting adjective because the man who developed Dyker Heights more than a century ago wanted homebuyers to think of it as a suburb.

 

Wonderful waterfalls and stunning statues

A good place to start is the intersection of 11th Avenue and 83rd Street, where two houses have wonderful waterfalls and stunning statues.

Another eye-pleasing 11th Avenue property with statues on its lawn is called Villa Abitino. It’s located at 8124 11th Ave. on the corner of 82nd Street.

According to Finance Department records, it was purchased for $1.7 million in 2007.

One of 12th Avenue’s many attention-grabbing homes, 8220 12th Ave., has a dramatic porch with columns and is situated on a hilltop. Plus it has a gazebo — and a three-car garage, which is useful since subway stations are far away.  

This house resides on the corner of 12th Avenue and 83rd Street.

Walter L. Johnson was the neighborhood’s developer

Some Dyker Heights houses have historic roots. They were built when the neighborhood was developed more than a century ago by Walter L. Johnson.

His father, Frederick Henry Johnson, had bought property in what was then New Utrecht with the intention of building a suburb, architectural history writer Suzanne Spellen says in a 2014 Brownstoner.com series about Dyker Heights.

But Frederick Henry Johnson died in the early 1890s without getting his plans off the ground.

Walter L. Johnson carried out his father’s vision. He started selling homes in the neighborhood in the late 1890s.

The first three Dyker Heights houses Walter L. Johnson built were on the southwest corner of 82nd Street and 11th Avenue.

The house the developer lived in burned down in a fire. A street sign that says “Walter L. Johnson Corner” is a reminder that his house stood there.

According to “The History of Dyker Heights,” a 2014 documentary made by Dr. Christian Zaino and Angelo Bonsignore, one of those first three houses Johnson built is still standing. Its address is 1050 82nd St.

The house was originally covered with shingles but now has a white-and-blue-brick facade. 

  

Houses designed by Constantine Schubert and John J. Petit

The designer of hundreds of houses Johnson built was Constantine Schubert, who studied architecture at Cooper Union.

Schubert lived in a Dyker Heights house whose address is 1124 85th St. Its facade isn’t shingle-covered now like it was when the architect resided there. But a giant letter “S,” a reference to his surname, is attached to its chimney.

In the documentary, Zaino — who wrote his NYU undergraduate thesis about Dyker Heights — also mentions that Saitta House at 1135 84th St. is “virtually unchanged” since its construction in 1899.

The Queen Anne-style house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by important Brooklyn architect John J. Petit.

One other Dyker Heights historic building you’ll want to see is a church rather than a house.

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church held its first worship service in 1900.

The church is situated on a tree-shaded lawn that runs the full length of the block along 11th Avenue between 80th and 81st streets.