EAST FLATBUSH — On the 300 East 25th Street Block, which sits between Clarendon Road and Avenue D in East Flatbush, neighbors work tirelessly to preserve the lush diversity of plants that has made them the four-time winner of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s “Greenest Block in Brooklyn” competition. Now, they’re trying to preserve the neighborhood itself.
Fearing that rapid development in the East Flatbush Community would wipe out the integrity and character of the block, the 300 East 25th Street Block Association recently submitted a request to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the block to be designated a Historic District. The 111-year-old Neo-Renaissance-style limestone and brownstone rowhouses, constructed by developer Henry Meyer Building Company in 1909, are what set the block apart.
“It’s a pretty rare development within the Flatbush area,” said Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council (HDC), the nonprofit advocating for the block’s designation as a landmark. “You don’t have that style of development happening with such a cohesive look, that still has such great integrity for the whole block.”
The group also honored the block as one of six exceptional historic districts on their 2020 “Six to Celebrate” list.
While other, similar blocks of row houses exist, many have been subjected to “unfortunate alterations,” losses, and other changes, Bankoff said. These changes have taken the form of awkwardly large or oddly shaped developments, that disrupt the aesthetic and “rhythm” of the block. Facades have been stripped of original features like window cornices and stoops, which imbued the homes and neighborhood with character.
300 East 25th Street Block, however, is “pretty close to pristine,” in Bankoff’s opinion.
Bankoff touts the hard work of 300 East 25th Street Block’s residents, who have taken excellent care of their homes and, of course, their gardens. Without any design guidelines, however, “you could have a situation where something very uncharacteristic to the neighborhood with regards to its scale, materials, or style gets built.”
Having a Historic District Designation would discourage inappropriate changes like the ones in the photo above.
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens president Scott Medbury said in a press release that “although our [Greenest Block in Brooklyn] Contest judges do not consider architecture in their judging criteria, 300 East 25th Street’s unique character and cohesive sense of place are simply undeniable.”
If granted Historic District status, 300 East 25th Street Block would be the first historic district block in East Flatbush.