Will the city landmark the oldest Sears in Brooklyn?

Flatbush resident Din Giddings says he’s thrilled about the potential landmarking of the Sears building — he walks by the art deco building every day.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The oldest Sears in Brooklyn could soon be a historic landmark, joining the famed Parachute Jump and Green-Wood Cemetery on the borough’s roster of preserved sites.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has already held two of the three hearings needed to ensure that the Sears Roebuck and Co. store on Beverley Road and Flatbush Avenue keeps its art deco-style exterior long after its glory days are over.

Brooklynites applauded the move, although few could remember the last time they stepped foot in the store.

“Landmarking is good because it makes a place look better, and it gives it more prestige and interest,” said Mary Kay Gallagher, a real estate broker in Ditmas Park.

The building could use a bit of both these days: It was designed during the architectural golden age of the 1930s, but fell upon hard times in the 1960s when its once-impressive glass windows were replaced with concrete to thwart vandals.

Neighborhood old-timers have fond memories of the former go-to spot for tools and appliances in a booming post-war economy.

“I’ve been going there since I was 2,” said Flatbush Food Coop owner Tom Valentino, 72, adding that he would accompany his carpenter father on his regular trips there to buy supplies.

“He would go there every weekend because many of the tools were guaranteed and could be replaced.”

Sears, which is also falling on hard times and announced last month that it was closing 53 of its home improvement stores, supported the landmark designation, but declined to comment.

“The building exhibits many of the iconic design elements found in many early Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores and has served generations of New York City shoppers,” the company wrote in a letter to the Commission, which has yet to cast its deciding vote.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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