East Flatbush residents hopeful about landmark status following LPC hearing

E. 25th Street
Residents of an E. 25th street block are seeking a historic district designation.
Photo courtesy of Julia Charles

Residents of a particularly well-manicured block of E. 25th Street in East Flatbush are hopeful the city’s landmarking honchos will designate their stretch of Neo-Renaissance style row houses as a historic district. 

“It seems as though the community deserves it, not just our block,” said Julia Charles, who chairs the 300 E. 25th Street Block Association’s landmarks committee. “Our voices need to be heard in East Flatbush.” 

The proposition drew nearly-unanimous praise at a Sept. 22 Landmark Preservation Commission hearing, where city honchos lauded the residents for maintaining the block’s architectural integrity, and for their hard work in advocating for the landmark designation.

“It was very moving listening to the testimony today,” said LPC Chairwoman Sarah Carroll. “It’s clear how this block has a sense of place that attracts people. And the community has been incredible stewards and have a shared love for this block.” 

The proposed E. 25th Street Historic District is made up of 56 row houses lining both sides of the block from Avenue D to Clarendon Road Z — all of which are outfitted with century-old front gardens and facades of limestone and brownstone meticulously preserved from their original construction by the Henry J. Meyers Company between 1909 and 1912. 

“It is amazingly consistent. When I saw it, it struck me as its level of consistency is absurdly high and the quality of how people have taken care of this place is just incredible,” said LPC Commissioner John Gustafsson.

The E. 25th Street block has received honors by a slew of city-based organizations over the years — including being named the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Greenest Block four times, most recently in 2016, as well as being named one of the preservationist group Historic Council’s “Six to Celebrate” communities in 2020. 

The row of limestones on E. 25th Street.Photo by Susan De Vries

The 300 E. 25th Street Block Association began actively pursuing the historic designation in June 2019 in an effort to protect their homes from developers with plans to build multi-story condos in the area, which the residents feared would diminish the special character of the area.

“It became not something we were just interested in,” Charles said. “But it became a need. An absolute need to preserve our block.” 

The group was inspired by the recently granted historic designations to Doctor’s Row in Bay Ridge and the four newly-established districts in Sunset Park, which Charles said are reminiscent in architectural style to their proposed district.

“The newest historic district at that time was Sunset Park so we used them as a case study, so to speak,” she said. “And Doctor’s Row in Bay Ridge is very similar in architectural style, they are all limestones and a one-block historic district.”

Now, the residents are hopeful that the city’s landmarking gurus will grant them historic district status, as their proposal has seen little opposition from interested parties — with no spoken or written opposition at the public hearing, and 26 letters of support submitted to the commission. The idea has also garnered support from the local community board, as well as local pols like Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte and City Councilwoman Farah Louis.

If the LPC does grant the preservation status, E. 25th street will be the first block of row houses to receive an NYC Historic Landmark Designation in East Flatbush, an area of the borough that is known for its rich Caribbean roots — which the block association head argues would be solidified with a historic designation. 

“It’s really nice to be able to honor our block and be able to highlight our community as a historic district, not just for the architectural contributions but for its cultural contributions too,” Charles said. 

Landmarking honchos have yet to set an official date to vote on the proposal, according to an agency spokesperson, but Charles said she has faith that it will be scheduled before the end of 2020. 

“The feedback from the residents has been really positive, the community has been positive,” Charles said. “Honestly, I think it might happen before the end of the year.”