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The Stories Your House Could Tell: 667 Argyle Road

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  In 1897 Christian Baur, then 48, teamed up with a much younger John R. Corbin to build homes in the first Brooklyn “suburban development,” Vanderveer Park, now East Flatbush. Five years later Corbin, apparently tired of dealing with customers, disappeared into a factory he built at Flatbush Avenue and Avenue I, alongside the LIRR railroad tracks, to pioneer the mass production of pre-cut standalone houses, eventually populating most of West Midwood and Midwood Park with his handywork. Baur was no slouch either: together with his architect son George, he erected a dozen homes in landmarked Midwood Park and Fiske Terrace.  1897 Brooklyn Eagle Ad By 1905 Christian Baur had already created the home he would soon retire to, at 2320 Foster Avenue (worth a walk just to ogle his playfully designed garage). But there was one last major project to finish before handing the reins to his son: erecting most of the homes on Argyle Road between Foster Avenue & Glenwood Road. While his former pr

The Stories Your House Could Tell: 659 Rugby Road

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1940 659 Rugby Road By Joe Enright In July of 1903 Captain Frederick C. Dennington, a Spanish-American War veteran, fixed his compass and stretched his chains along Rugby Road. He was standing just south of what had once been a small rural lane that served for 240 years as the southern boundary of the old town of Flatbush, or what the original Dutch settlers called Midwout. Beyond that lane a thick grove of oaks teeming with birds, known as Lott’s Woods, had beckoned generations of adventurous lads. But now the landscape was being rapidly transformed. The lane, Foster Avenue, had recently been enlarged to an 80-foot wide thoroughfare and the trees and brush of the woodland had been leveled, with all the branches and stumps buried in the middle of rectangular blocks of empty land which right now needed the services of a City Surveyor.  1891 Map: Lotts Woods in Green, Stradling Rail Lines Captain Dennington’s view eastward from an empty Rugby Road would have encompas

Stories Your House Could Tell: 15 Waldorf Court

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Civil War Vets, Horse Traders, Salesmen, Dancers  & Lives of Service By Joe Enright 1940: 15 Waldorf Court (NYC Tax Photo) Some of the most ornate homes in Victorian Flatbush were built near the Brighton line. If you doubt me, take a look at the “Japanese House” at 131 Buckingham Road. Why would you build a mansion alongside a railroad?  The Japanese House at 131 Buckingham Road Some have suggested that at the dawn of the Progressive Era, the railroad – newly electrified in 1899 – was considered a symbol of progress. Perhaps that’s why the Germania Real Estate & Improvement Company designed Courts in West Midwood to surround their malled centerpiece, Glenwood Road: because the Courts afforded more views of the smokeless single-car electric trains that clanked by.   Early 1900s BRT Brighton Train Car. Summer! In fact, when 15 Waldorf Court was being erected by John Corbin and his architect, Benjamin Dreisler, in 1906, the railroad 200 feet to its eas