Among all New York City’s glorious sites, large and small, there are some to which time has not been kind. One of them, the house at 7 Irvington Place in Flatbush, Brooklyn, has a new owner who has proposed renovations to the dilapidated structure. On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission heard that proposal, but found that it did not meet its standard of appropriateness.
The three-story Arts & Crafts style structure is located at the west end of the street, just east of the tracks for the B and Q trains and just south of Foster Avenue. It was built around 1913 by Slee & Bryson with E.R. Strong. It has been altered over the years, most notably with a front porch expansion. It fell under the LPC’s jurisdiction in 2008, with the designation of the Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park Historic District.
The renovation plan came from the firm Albo Liberis and called for demolition of a free-standing garage behind the house, which would provide a larger backyard.
On the main house, the front of the second floor would have been expanded to match the size of the porch. Then, instead of the existing dormer at the second floor, a new dormer would have been built on a raised third floor. The house would have been re-clad and the gas flue, not in use for decades, would be removed.
The basement would also be expanded. Plans show the first floor would have a living room, study, dining room, half-bathroom, and a combined kitchen and den. The second floor would have five bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a laundry room. Finally, the third floor would have a master bedroom and bathroom suite, a baby room, and another half-bathroom.
None of the commissioners who spoke were satisfied with the proposal.
LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said the applicant was “not capitalizing” on the house’s history, and said that an acceptable proposal might not seek such a large increase in square footage. She added that the plan should try to keep the existing profile in the front.
Commissioner Michael Goldblum suggested that, instead of expanding on the front of the house, they expand around the chimney on the right side. He was told by the architect that such an effort might not be allowed under zoning.
Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron, in comments later echoed by Commissioner Goldblum, said the dominant feature of the house was the roofline, which would be totally rewritten under the proposal. She also said the new third floor dormer should be eliminated.
Commissioner Diana Chapin said the proposed house wouldn’t have a consistent style. Commissioner Frederick Bland went a step further, saying, “This is really a new house.”
Brooklyn Community Board 14 did not send along a comment on the proposal. The Historic Districts Council, however, joined the commissioners in its rejection. “This 1913 home has clear historic documentation of its Arts and Crafts style. The proposed alterations, unfortunately, show a complete disregard for this history or style,” testified HDC’s Patrick Waldo. “A minor, minimally-visible expansion might be appropriate, but changing the whole form of the structure removes the historic context from this building.”
In the end, the commissioners took no action, but urged the applicant to work extremely closely with LPC staff to come up with a new proposal for this once-wonderful house.
View the full presentation slides here: