East Flatbush

City designates East Flatbush’s first historic district

November 17, 2020 Editorial Staff
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The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday designated East Flatbush’s first historic district: a remarkably intact and cohesive group of 56 Renaissance Revival-style row houses, LPC writes.

The East 25th Street Historic District extends along both sides of East 25th Street between Clarendon Road and Avenue D.

It owes its exceptional cohesiveness and strong sense of place, LPC says, to three major factors: its construction within a very short time frame by a single developer, its architectural consistency, and its excellent historic integrity.

All of the houses were built by a single developer, the Henry Meyer Building Company, between 1909 and 1912 and were designed by the Williamsburg firm Glucroft & Glucroft in the Renaissance Revival style.

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Each house is of one of four types, with either a limestone or brownstone front and rounded or angled bay. All of their main facades remain essentially intact.

“The designation of the East 25th Street Historic District is a decisive win for all of us who fought to preserve history and deep family ties to District 45,” said Councilmember Farah Louis. “The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission now recognizes the value of the centuries-old architecture and the advocacy of every individual who invests their time and resources to beautify our neighborhood.

“The predominantly Black and Caribbean homeowners can now rest assured that their properties are beyond the reach of developers,” she continued. “Together, we will continue to protect our homes against any attempt to destroy our community’s unique architecture, beginning with the Renaissance Revival-style rowhouses.”

During their early years, the houses were owned and occupied by the families of white merchants and other upper-middle-class professionals. Notable early residents of the historic district included suffragist Nellie Marshall, and the influential executive director of the Port Authority Austin Tobin.

In recent years, the houses’ ownership has come to reflect Flatbush’s increasing diversity, especially the growth of its Black and Afro-Caribbean communities, which grew significantly in the 1970s and 1980s.

The area has been voted the “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” four times.

“During a time of so much uncertainty, we’re overjoyed that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has shown their commitment to preserving our block through historic designation,” said Julia Charles, Chair of the East 25th Street Historic District Initiative. “The beauty of our diverse community lies in the pride of its people. It is this spirit that enables homeowners the fortitude to preserve our century old homes with delicate care for years to come.”

“The 300 E 25th St. Block Association hope that our community’s work and preservation legacy will be further solidified by the homes that we leave intact for future generations,” said Carol Reneau, Co-President of the 300 E 25th St. Block Association.

“This well-deserved designation, located in a part of the city previously underserved by landmark protections, is entirely due to the remarkable organizing efforts and dedication of its residents and community leaders, and to the Landmarks Commission’s flexibility and adaptation in pursuing preservation during a pandemic,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “This is a great step forward for landmarks in New York City and an example that just because a community might not be able to gather, it can still unite.”

“Through this designation, the Commission is recognizing both the architectural quality and the residents’ incredible stewardship of their historic homes and their block,” said LPC Chair Sarah Carroll. “I have been so impressed by how the historic architecture drew people to this block and how their community spirit has grown stronger through their collective efforts to green, beautify and preserve it.

“This designation exemplifies the intersection of historic preservation and community, which is very rewarding,” Carroll added.

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