Five fab spots to see in landmarked Prospect Park South
Eye on Real Estate: Developer Dean Alvord invented the neighborhood
Viva Las Victorians.
Did you know America’s largest concentration of Victorian houses can be found in Flatbush?
They’re in a cluster of mini-neighborhoods, one of which is Prospect Park South.
What a picturesque place.
Right before the turn of the 20th century, Dean Alvord bought 50 acres of land from the Dutch Reformed Church and an old-line Brooklyn family, the Bergens. He turned this tierra into Prospect Park South.
According to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 1979 designation report about the Prospect Park South Historic District, Alvord wanted to incorporate “rural beauty” into the city blocks of the neighborhood he was creating.
Alvord was born in Syracuse and developed several neighborhoods in Rochester before moving to Brooklyn.
The stand-alone houses he and other builders constructed in Prospect Park South epitomize gracious suburban living — though they’re located deep in the heart of busy Brooklyn.
Most of the homes have lots of bedrooms. And pretty porches for enjoying the soft spring air. And lush, landscaped lawns. And driveways and garages.
One great way to savor the sights of this Instagram-worthy corner of Victorian Flatbush is to walk up and down every street in the landmarked district.
It’s not very big. Its boundaries are Church Avenue, Buckingham Road, Beverley Road and Stratford Road.
We picked out five fab spots to look for on your stroll.
We could have picked out 50 spots — and that wouldn’t begin to cover the neighborhood’s architectural eye candy.
Which way to the Japanese House?
Such a pretty pair, these two.
They’re situated on the shortest street in the Prospect Park South Historic District — Buckingham Road.
On one side of the street, there’s a grand, old-fashioned mansion with two-story Ionic columns flanking the front door. On the other side of the street, there’s the beloved Japanese House, as it’s nicknamed.
The mansion with the columns, which is 104 Buckingham Rd., was designed in 1901 by an architect on Alvord’s staff named Carroll H. Pratt.
The last time the house was sold, which was 2008, the price was $1.85 million, city Finance Department records show.
The wood and stucco Japanese House, at 131 Buckingham Rd., resembles a pagoda.
Alvord had the unusual house designed as a three-dimensional advertising tool to promote the neighborhood. It was featured in a 1903 ad in a magazine called Country Life in America.
Architecture firm Kirby, Petit & Green designed the house.
An often-repeated story about the house is that it was built for the Japanese Ambassador of that era — but that’s an urban myth, a 2014 posting on Untapped Cities says.
A marvelous Marlborough Road trio
We’ve never seen any other house that looks quite like lemon-hued 215 Marlborough Rd.
Prospect Park South’s developer would love to hear an observation like that if he were alive.
Alvord wanted all the houses in Prospect Park South to look unique and special. The concept of cookie-cutter homes was anathema to him.
John J. Petit designed French Gothic Revival-style 215 Marlborough Rd. for Alvord in 1901, the designation report about the Prospect Park South Historic District says. Petit was of course a partner in the firm that designed the Japanese House.
The house at 215 Marlborough Rd. is part of a terrific trio of eye-pleasing homes.
The home next to it, 203 Marlborough Rd., is painted deep green. By the way, Petit designed this house, too.
This house changed hands in a 2015 estate sale. The price was $2.03 million, Finance Department records indicate.
The third house in the trio, 197 Marlborough Rd., is partly painted a blue hue. The bottom floor of the house is made of red bricks. The turret on one corner of the property is very photogenic.
Another spot that shows off the historic district’s eye-pleasing architectural variety is in the middle of Rugby Road.
On one side of the street, there’s a wooden Swiss chalet.
Or, more precisely, 100 Rugby Rd. is Petit’s architectural interpretation of a chalet that’s on a flat lawn on a city street instead of in an Alpine meadow. He designed the house for Alvord.
On the other side of the street, there’s handsome 101 Rugby Rd.
It has a big, round front porch and a circular turret with a row of windows on its second floor. The top of the turret looks kinda like it’s wearing a crown.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report says 101 Rugby Rd. “is among the most romantic houses in Prospect Park South.”
John E. Nitchie — an architect whose name is new to us — designed this house in 1900.
The Argyle and Albemarle intersection
We didn’t pick out a preponderance of Petit’s designs on purpose for this list of dandy eye candy.
We took photos in Prospect Park South first, then looked up historic-house info afterwards.
It turns out that Petit designed another house we want you to see.
It’s at 1306 Albemarle Rd., on the corner of Argyle Road.
The Colonial Revival-style home has a curvy front porch topped by a turret that wears a witch’s hat.
Right across the street, there’s another iconic house, 1305 Albemarle Rd.
The architect who designed it was H.B. Moore. It was built in 1905.
It’s got grand, two-story pillars at the front door and porches on its first and second floors.
An architect bought 1305 Albemarle Rd. for $2.75 million in 2017, Finance Department records show.
He has done beautiful exterior restoration work on the house.
Reversal of Fortune was filmed in this house. That’s the movie that stars Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bulow, who was tried for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny von Bulow.
Irons won an Oscar for this role.
Beautiful Beverley Road
You might get so wrapped up in the neighborhood’s north- and south-running streets that you forget to stroll along east- and west-running Beverley Road on the edge of the historic district.
Don’t make that mistake.
You’ll miss intriguing-looking 1205 Beverley Rd. It’s in the middle of the block between Argyle and Westminster roads.
This house has a skinny tower rising up on one corner of it and porches stacked on top of one another on another corner.
Developer George T. Moore hired architect Henry A. Stunek to design the house in 1899, the Prospect Park South Historic District’s designation report says.
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