Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Meet the Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park Landmark District

Fiske Midwood Terrace Map

Among the many actions taken by the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday was a vote to create a Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park Historic District. The new district will be bounded by Foster Avenue on the north, Avenue H on the south, Ocean Avenue on the east and the subway line carrying the Q and other trains on the west. There are more than 250 homes in the district. Per the LPC, in a document prepared for the session:
The proposed Fiske Terrace – Midwood Park Historic District is a planned development consisting of approximately 250 predominantly free-standing single-family residences constructed during the first two decades of the twentieth century. The predominantly Colonial Revival and Shingle Style houses are largely intact, asymmetrically massed and feature spacious porches, elaborate projecting towers, oriels and bays, Palladian windows and deep eaves. The neighborhood also has an unusual street plan that includes landscaped malls and short streets that dead-end at the BMT subway cut.

Fiske Terrace – Midwood Park occupies land that was originally part of the Lott farm, and is now considered to be part of the larger neighborhood of Flatbush. The initial impetus for development of Flatbush occurred with the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 and followed with the construction of the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island railroad in 1895. The first development in the area was Tennis Court in 1886. The construction of park-like suburbs such as Prospect Park South (1899) provided a model for the developments of Fiske Terrace and Midwood Park.

Despite their visual similarity Fiske Terrace and Midwood Park developed independently. Theodore B. Ackerson, one of Brooklyn’s most important contractors and real estate developers purchased the 30-acre estate of George P. Fiske in 1905. Ackerson constructed residences in series of tens from stock plans. The houses had uniform features and standards of quality but with some exterior variety suited to the buyers’ tastes. The construction of Fiske Terrace was virtually completed by 1920. Midwood Park was developed by contractor and architect John R. Corbin also starting around 1905. Corbin used innovative prefabrication techniques. He built a factory on Jamaica Bay at East 56th Street that was capable of turning out 1,000 homes a year. All frames, beams, and interior trim were cut at the factory and then shipped to the construction site for assembly. Corbin’s clients could hire their own architects, or they could employ one of Corbin’s designers. Midwood Park was nearly completed by 1910.
There is an item on all of the landmark action yesterday at the CityRoom on the landmarking and a lot of material at the LPC's website, if one scrolls down to the section on the new district.

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