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The Stories Your House Could Tell: 726 Argyle Road

1940: 726 Argyle Rd (NYC Property Tax Photo) On Thanksgiving eve in 1905 the high and mighty of Flatbush gathered to celebrate the communities of wood frame houses created over the previous ten years, stretching for two miles from Prospect Park south to the LIRR tracks near Avenue H. Their meeting place was the opulent Midwood Club, on Flatbush Avenue near Clarendon Road.  1900: The Midwood Club Over oysters, salmon, pumpkin pie, coffee and cigars (the menu card featured a photo of the new Erasmus Hall building), speakers rose to urge improvements for Flatbush: the Brighton line was a mess; a new public hall was needed; a map should be printed showing Flatbush was no longer “a primitive place of woods and wild animals;” and a law should be passed to “make it as easy for men to vote as it is to talk.” Not women, though. This was, after all, a males-only dinner.  One speaker, however, had a much loftier desire. Edward Cragen of Marlborough Road opined, “If I had my way, I would make this

The Stories Your House Could Tell: 735 Argyle Road

1940: 735 Argyle Road It’s often been said that there are only five degrees of separation between any two Earthlings. But for West Midwoodians, it’s much less than that. Take 735 Argyle Road for instance – a good choice since that’s the star of this episode. Two of its residents became intertwined with DeKoven Court, a third with Westminster Road, and the building itself has a twin down the block. The house we now profile was erected by the master builder John Corbin in 1905, a year that yielded a bumper crop of new homes here. Corbin and his architect Benjamin Driesler designed 30 different model houses, but in truth, there were only about 10 basic forms. 735 Argyle was a “Model C,” crafted by Corbin in his large assembly plant alongside the sprawling Vanderveer Park station in the Junction (above which now sits the huge Philip Howard apartment building on Flatbush Avenue). Historical Anecdote: As a wild child circa 1959 my pals and I would often descend into that abandoned area. Ther

The Stories Your House Could Tell: 12 Waldorf Court

1940 1857: Purple Dot Near Apex of Red Triangle (Gravesend Town Line) Marks Where Waldorf Court Would Be Built from 1903-1907 Waldorf Hotel After the ornate Waldorf Hotel opened in 1893 on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue – built by the American-British millionaire William Waldorf Astor – the name Waldorf instantly evoked images of  wealth and prestige. And so in February 1900 developer Henry Meyer, a former unsuccessful candidate for the mayoralty of Brooklyn, appeared before the Brooklyn Borough President. He successfully petitioned that his Waldorf Court, part of a vacant expanse surrounding surface railroad tracks that ran to the Brighton Hotel on Coney Island, be added to the New York City street grid, along with the other Anglophilic street names that would comprise West Midwood. 1881: Horse Cars to Rail Line to Brighton 1882: Stock for Brighton Line The land was originally “purchased” by 17th Century Dutch settlers from the Lenape tribe as part of a huge parcel and through inheritance c