Midwood: Brooklyn’s Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park (Images)
Tree-shaded streets and eclectic architecture from the early 20th century are wonderful attractions to stroll through the Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park Historic District. The 12-block historic neighborhood is in Flatbush, between Foster Avenue, H Avenue, Ocean Avenue, and the B and Q subway rails.
Originally two separate developments, Fiske Terrace and Midwood Park, both were part of the development rush of the early 20th century when railroad and overhead lines stretched across Brooklyn. Builders were quick to buy up former farmland, and soon streets and sidewalks were going in and houses were being built.
The major companies in the area were the TB Ackerson Company of Fiske Terrace and the John R. Corbin Company of Midwood Park. While other builders built a house here and there, these two builders were responsible for the large number of homes built between 1903 and 1914. It was Ackerson who wrote, perhaps with some self-promotional exaggeration, that Fiske Terrace “was transformed from a forest into a town in 18 months”.
Below you will find just a small selection of houses that should encourage you to take your own stroll through this architecturally stimulating district.
677 East 17th Street
This house, built around 1903, was designed by the architect Benjamin Driesler for the John R. Corbin Company. Driesler designed over 100 houses within the old town as well as some in the neighboring Ditmas Park Historic District. Here Driesler combined a bit of Colonial Revival and Queen Anne to create this striking clapboard house with an octagonal tower.
700 East 17th Street
This single-family home in Queen Anne, built around 1903, was also designed by Benjamin Driesler for the John R. Corbin Company. While the windows have been changed, it retains the arched wraparound porch and corner turrets that are so characteristic of the style.
621 and 625 East 19th Street
These two charming Arts and Crafts style houses on East 19th Street were designed by architects Slee & Bryson, perhaps best known in Brooklyn for their colonial houses. The company designed about 30 houses in the district. The two timber frame houses were built around 1913 for contractor Edward R. Strong and have recessed verandas supported by large columns, clapboards and dormers typical of the style on the second floor. The designation report notes that # 621 (the greenhouse) has remained remarkably unchanged since its construction.
624 East 19th Street
John Corbin was a builder but also the noted architect for a number of homes in Midwood Park, including this colonial house built around 1909. The three-story house is an example of one of the common house shapes in the neighborhood: the square. Foursquare houses are characterized by their box-like shape and are typically two or more stories high. Here the basic shape has been embellished with colonial revival details such as a pillared vestibule and crossing front gables. A twin of this home is located at 695 East 19th Street.
[Photos by Susan De Vries]
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