Landmark Preservation

Founding members of the 300 East 25th St Block Association - Hazel and Vernon Deane of Barbados.
Julia Charles
The “winningest, greenest” block in Brooklyn.

The “winningest, greenest” block in Brooklyn is seeking landmark preservation with being designated a historic district.

According to Julia Charles, chair of the Landmark Committee, if granted, the 300 East 25th St. Block would be the first historic district block in the East Flatbush community.

Charles – a Caribbean-American, who was born and raised in Far Rockaway, Queens to a Barbadian mother and a Jamaican father – told Caribbean Life that the 300 East 25th St. Block, often referred to as the “Greenest Block”, “serves as a beacon of tranquility in the East Flatbush community.”

She said the proposed historic district includes a total of 56 neo-renaissance limestone and brownstone row houses on East 25th St., between Clarendon Road and Avenue D.

“This block has remained intact with century-old facades and creative front gardens, which provides a strong ‘sense of place’”, Charles said, adding that “this uniformity of East 25th St. is due to the buildings’ construction by one developer, Henry Meyer Building Company, in 1909.

Charles said Meyer’s vision of Meyer was to build beautiful, “high grade” one-family homes, “which, at the time, as it is now, (was) an attractive and rapidly growing neighborhood.”

“The block’s distinction of the ‘Greenest Block’ is due to being the most decorated contestants of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens’ Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest,” she said. “This unique identity for being the Greenest Block in Brooklyn has been by virtue of winning 1st place in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2016.”

In 2014, Charles said the block won the 1st place prize for the first ever Best Children’s Garden Project.

Four years later, the block won the 1st inaugural Garden Mentor Award, Charles said.

In August 2019, she said the block also won the 2019 National Grid’s Leadership in Sustainable Practices Award.

Charles said the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest with a Special Insider’s Tour, September 2019, on East 25th Street to close out the gardening season.

“This celebration was affectionately coined the 25th on 25th,” she said.

Charles said Meyer’s development on the east side of Flatbush included the sister block, East 26th St.

But, unfortunately, she said the rise of over-development has now affected East 26th St, “in which a permit has been placed to build in height on their block, which changes their landscape.”

Charles lamented that rapid over-development has “plagued the East Flatbush community, with either the demolition of century-old Victorian homes, with boxy buildings in its place, or ‘finger’ extensions placed on top of row-homes.”

“For this, it is crucial to preserve the architectural vision of Henry Meyer and the cultural landscape the 300 East 25th St. Block residents have nurtured and protected with tremendous care to culminate to a historic district,” she said, disclosing that East Flatbush, featuring the 300 East 25th St. Block, has been selected in the Historic District Council’s 2020 Six to Celebrate.”

Charles said that the Historic District Council’s Six to Celebrate is New York’s only citywide list that features communities as a preservation priority and will be supported by the Historic District Council (HDC) through “advocacy, strategic planning, outreach and building public awareness.”

Kelly Carroll, Director of Advocacy and Community Outreach, said that there are no rowhouse blocks in Flatbush that are protected as a New York City Historic District, adding that the 300 East 25th St. Block is “certainly a stand out in terms of integrity, resident support and beauty.”

Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, said: “Although our contest judges do not consider architecture in their judging criteria, 300 East 25th Street’s unique character and cohesive sense of place are simply undeniable.”

Brooklyn Democratic Party’s newly-elected chief Haitian American Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, said she “fully” supports “preserving the legacy of East 25th Street, between Clarendon Rd and Ave D, by designating it as a Historic District,” urging the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to “do the same.”

Another Haitian American legislator, Councilwoman Farah Louis, who represents the 45th District Council District, said “it’s imperative that we take the precautionary steps to ensure that these homes are kept out of reach from potential developers and will continue to stand for future generations.”

 

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