Tag Archives: Prospect Park South

131 Buckingham Road

131 Buckingham Road is widely cited as New York City’s most unusual residence – a century-old Japanese-style wood-frame home, in the heart of Victorian Flatbush.

In the words of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, “The most exotic and certainly the best-known house in Prospect Park South is this Japanese style wood and stucco structure designed in 1902 by Petit & Green for Dean Alvord. The dwelling is further evidence of Petit’s ability to design in many architectural styles, but in order to give the building a genuine oriental quality, he was assisted by three Japanese artisans: Saburo Arai, who worked as a contractor; Shunso Ishikawa, who was responsible for the original color scheme and decorations, and Chogoro Sugai, who designed the original garden.”

According to the Commission, “The cost of building this house was estimated in 1902 as being $12,000, and in 1903 the price for the purchase of the building was quoted as $26,500, very high for a building in Prospect Park South. By advertising this exotic structure, Alvord hoped to attract potential buyers who were curious about this dwelling, but would buy the less expensive structures in the area. Alvord noted in a boldly printed box at the bottom of the advertisement that ‘many other houses equally artistic and distinctive, at varying prices, are ready for inspection.’ “

The Flatbush Development Corporation house tours frequently feature this home – see the FDC website or call 718-859-3800 for information.

This gem is just one of the jewels of the Prospect Park South Historic District and adjacent Beverley Square West development.

131 Buckingham Road Vital Statistics
131 Buckingham Road Recommended Reading

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Prospect Park South Historic District

Prospect Park South Historic District is a neighborhood with a mission: To “illustrate how much of rural beauty can be incorporated within the rectangular limits of the conventional city block.” The myriad home styles were the vision of a single developer: Dean Alvord.

According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, “The most important event in the progress of suburbanization in Flatbush was the purchase in 1899 of approximately fifty acres of land by the real estate developer Dean Alvord for $280,000. Most of this land had been owned by the Dutch Reformed Church and the Bergen family. Alvord intended to lay out a ‘high-class’ suburban community to be called Prospect Park South.

“…Alvord’s objective in Prospect Park South was, in his own words, ‘to create a rural park within the limitations of the conventional city block and city street.'”

Alvord laid out the utilities, put up brick gateposts, and planned lawns and malls. He hired a landscape gardener, and hired architect John J. Petit to design large comfortable houses in a variety of styles. The LPC notes examples of Colonial Revival, neo-Tudor, Queen Anne, Swiss chalet, and even Japanese pagoda.

“The architecture of Prospect Park South is representative of a phenomenon common among the suburbs that were built up in America at the turn of the 20th century. The buildings erected in these developments represent an eclectic mix with houses of many different styles placed next to each other on each street. Each house at Prospect Park South was designed as a separate entity with no consideration given to the style of the surrounding structures or to the appropriateness of the use of a certain stylistic variant for a specific site…. At Prospect Park South houses with Colonial, Queen Anne, Italianate, French Renaissance, Japanese, Elizabethan, Jacobean and other stylistic details were freely juxtaposed. This free mixture of stylistic forms often resulted in such seeming incongruities as the placement of a stucco Spanish Mission style home beside a frame Swiss Chalet.” [LPC Designation Report]

Prospect Park South Historic District Vital Statistics
Prospect Park South Historic District Recommended Reading

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