On the brink of history – Nabes poised for special landmark designation

By Helen Klein

In a little over two weeks, two Brooklyn neighborhoods are likely to attain landmark status. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on March 18 on whether to grant designation to the Midwood Park/Fiske Terrace historic district. LPC held a hearing on the designation in October, 2007. At that time, 54 people testified in favor of landmark designation for the communities and two people testified in opposition. The designation is something most people who live in the neighborhoods are eagerly awaiting, said Paula Paterniti, the co-president of the Fiske Terrace Association. “We’re really excited,” Paterniti noted. “Some people feel it’s coming at a good time, because they see people kind of anxious to do work on their homes. I hope, when the process is complete, people will go through the proper procedures and that upgrades will be done within the guidelines and overall sense of our community.” “This is great, incredibly positive,” enthused Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council (HDC). “We are so pleased that Midwood Park and Fiske Terrace are being added to the growing roster of Brooklyn neighborhoods protected by landmark designation. They are beautiful neighborhoods that are extraordinarily worthy of this protection and honor.” Ron Schweiger, Brooklyn borough historian, concurred. “With all the over-development already infringing on the area,” he added, “we have got to preserve this kind of housing that’s lasted over a century.” With Fiske Terrace and Midwood Park likely to become historic districts, Schweiger also said he hopes that other neighborhoods in Victorian Flatbush will be similarly honored. “I think this will hopefully set a precedent to get the other Victorian communities of Flatbush designated,” Schweiger remarked. The two neighborhoods, which are part of Victorian Flatbush, an area of spacious old homes on large, tree-shaded lots, were founded in the early years of the 20th century and are replete with significant architecture. The homes – which are related in terms of architectural elements but individually distinctive —feature such characteristics as wrap-around porches, turrets, stained glass windows and Tudor half-timbering. Besides the traditional Queen Anne houses that characterize much of Victorian Flatbush, there are several bungalows in the neighborhoods, which were conceived of as middle-class developments in the early years of the 20th century. One hundred years later, the homes nestled in the cul-de-sac communities bounded by the Brighton line, the Long Island Railroad cut, Ocean Avenue and Foster Avenue retain many of their original features. A time for the vote has not yet been set, said Lisi de Bourbon, an LPC spokesperson. De Bourbon recommended that people check the agency’s website about a week prior to the hearing, or call 311 to learn the hour of the vote. LPC’s web address is www.nyc.gov /html/lpc/home.

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