Ditmas Park

See five scenic spots in landmarked Ditmas Park

April 10, 2019 Lore Croghan
Welcome to the Ditmas Park Historic District. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Eye on Real Estate: Victorian Flatbush architectural eye candy awaits you

Ditmas Park is a Victorian house-fancier’s fantasy come to life.

All those magnificent stand-alone, century-old frame houses with beautiful yards.

All those circular porches topped with pointy-roofed turrets.

And for visual variety there are stately brick mansions with front-entrance columns like the ones on Classical Greek and Roman temples.

Admirers of this stellar Victorian Flatbush neighborhood should thank their lucky stars for Lewis Pounds.

The real estate broker from Topeka, Kansas purchased land in 1902 and built Ditmas Park with a man named Delbert Decker, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the Ditmas Park Historic District says.

The property Pounds bought was part of the Van Ditmarsen family’s farm, in case you were wondering where the neighborhood’s name comes from.

Pounds later went into politics. He served as the Brooklyn Borough President from 1913 to 1917. He later ran for mayor of New York City, but didn’t win.

A walk around the neighborhood Pounds built is a rewarding experience if you crave Victorian architectural eye candy or simply want an hour of suburban-style serenity without having to leave Brooklyn.

I strolled through the Ditmas Park Historic District the other day and found five especially scenic spots for you to see.

Some patches of March snow were still hanging around here and there. I hope by the time you make your visit, green lawns will be visible and a few brave daffodils will be showing their faces.

Ocean Avenue between Newkirk Avenue and Dorchester Road

The corner of Ocean and Newkirk avenues is a fine place to start, at a red-brick, stone-trimmed mansion that Brooklyn builder Thomas Brush constructed as his home in 1899.

The house at 1010 Ocean Ave. has a portico with tall Ionic columns. The mansion’s architectural style is a variation of Colonial Revival known as Georgian.

Brush’s son-in-law, George Van Ness, bought the lot next door at 1000 Ocean Ave. The two men built houses that were meant “to complement each other in style,” Suzanne Spellen wrote in a 2014 Brownstoner story.

An architect named George Palliser designed both homes.

This is 1010 Ocean Ave., which developer Thomas Brush built as his residence more than a century ago. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
This is 1010 Ocean Ave., which developer Thomas Brush built as his residence more than a century ago. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

For many years 1010 Ocean Ave. was used as a synagogue and later a church. Medical offices currently occupy it.

The west side of Ocean Avenue from Newkirk Avenue to the corner of Dorchester Road is included in the Ditmas Park Historic District. The houses are stunners.

Another great pair of Ocean Avenue houses stands on the corner of Ditmas Avenue.

Both are Colonial Revival-style homes with unusual silhouettes and front doors with small porticoes.
Manly Cutter designed the one at 950 Ocean Ave., which was constructed in 1907.

John Petit was the architect of the other one, whose address is 940 Ocean Ave. It was built in 1901 for Emily Driggs, who did important charitable work such as serving as the secretary of the Flatbush Boys Club and the president of the Women’s Auxiliary, the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report about the historic district says.

Petit’s name may sound familiar. He designed some of the most dazzling homes in Prospect Park South.

The white house is lovely 940 Ocean Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The white house is lovely 940 Ocean Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

East 19th Street between Dorchester Road and Ditmas Avenue

Next, swing around the corner and walk to the East 19th Street block that runs between Dorchester Road and Ditmas Avenue. So. Many. Pretty. Houses.

One especially eye-catching home, 456 East 19th St., is made of stucco and brick and has an unusually shaped roof covered with Spanish tiles.

A Norwegian-born architect named Arne Dehli designed this Mission Revival house, which was constructed in 1910, the designation report says. That’s a very unusual architectural style in Victorian Flatbush.

The architectural style of 456 East 19th St. is Mission Revival. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The architectural style of 456 East 19th St. is Mission Revival. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Another lovable house, 463 East 19th St., has a rounded porch and a turret topped with a witch’s hat. It was built in 1906.

The designation report says this Slee & Bryson design is “one of the finest houses in the Historic District.”

Don't you love 463 East 19th St.'s picturesque porch? Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Don’t you love 463 East 19th St.’s picturesque porch? Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The intersection of Ditmas Avenue and East 18th Street

Every Ditmas Avenue intersection in the landmarked section of the neighborhood is populated with eye-catching houses.

Two of my favorites stand at the intersection of East 18th Street.

The partly brick house at 1806 Ditmas Ave. was designed by Chappell & Bosworth and constructed in 1909. Its low-pitched roofs that extend past the edge of the house suggest Craftsman design, but otherwise its architectural style is Colonial Revival, the designation report says.

Here's 1806 Ditmas Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Here’s 1806 Ditmas Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Another great house at this intersection is Colonial Revival-style 1807 Ditmas Ave. It’s pale yellow with turquoise trim, and a pine tree out front is practically big enough to be Rockefeller Center’s holiday tree.

Arlington Isham designed this house, which was built in 1903, the designation report says.

This fine house is Colonial Revival-style 1807 Ditmas Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
This fine house is Colonial Revival-style 1807 Ditmas Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

East 17th Street between Ditmas Avenue and Dorchester Road

Now head over to the next street that intersects Ditmas Avenue, which is East 17th Street.

One especially charming home on the block between Ditmas Avenue and Dorchester Road is Tudor-style 501 East 17th St., which was constructed in 1908. George Showers designed it and a banker named Forest Wood was its first owner, the designation report says.

his Tudor house stands at 501 East 17th St. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
his Tudor house stands at 501 East 17th St. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Another handsome house, Colonial Revival-style 444 East 17th St., stands on the corner of Dorchester Road. It changed hands last year.

The purchase price was $1.925 million, city Finance Department records show — and the seller had bought it for $800,000 in 2004.

The handsome house on the corner is 444 East 17th St., which recently changed hands. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The handsome house on the corner is 444 East 17th St., which recently changed hands. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Check out East 16th Street, too

The East 16th Street blocks that are part of the Ditmas Park Historic District are charming.

Isham, the architect I mentioned a moment ago, designed numerous bungalows and Colonial Revival houses on this street.

But my very favorite East 16th Street house is a corner property whose address is 1601 Ditmas Ave.
Fred Staples designed this big, bold Colonial Revival home for George Hodges, the designation report says. It was built in 1906.

Sunlight brightens the facade of 1601 Ditmas Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Sunlight brightens the facade of 1601 Ditmas Ave. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

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