BS: What neighborhood do you live in, and how did you end up there?
MKG: I’ve lived in Prospect Park South since 1959. We heard about this home by word of mouth, and when we moved in we had a lot of renovating to do. We moved in with six kids, which was a shock at the time. The neighbors said they had never seen so many lights on at a house. It was a very quiet neighborhood back then, but it has evolved.
BS: Can you talk about the beginnings of Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate?
MKG: We loved the area and all the space for our six children. We got involved in the Neighborhood Association and after my husband was the president for many years, the next president approached me about selling homes here. It seems that the brokers at that time were recommending to potential buyers that these homes would be good homes to have boarders! This was the last thing we wanted in these lovely Victorians home, detached, with driveways and garages and spacious rear yards!
So I took on the challenge and started asking around. There were potential buyers out there. I knew a real estate broker who let me work from home. So I got my license and the rest is history. I did not have to advertise! It worked by word of mouth. Just phone calls and talking with people we knew… no advertisements. This was 1970.
After the jump, Mary Kay talks about real estate changes in the neighborhood, the value of a driveway, and her favorite homes and neighborhoods in Victorian Flatbush…
BS: What’s the biggest change in real estate you’ve noticed in Victorian Flatbush since you first began the profession? And what hasn’t changed much?
MKG: As for changes, it is the young marrieds with children that had to discover the neighborhood. There are many more children in PPS now, it’s more lively. And then when landmarking came around [in 1979], people became more protective over their homes. There was no more aluminum siding, no crazy paint was allowed. But overall the look of the neighborhoods has not changed.
BS: The neighborhoods you cover have some of the most distinct architecture in the entire city. How do you think the architecture, the lawns, the space, affects the tone of the neighborhood? Many of these neighborhoods were built as “escapes” or “retreats” from the city, do you think that sentiment still survives?
MKG: That sentiment still survives. You can’t find another neighborhood like PPS and some of the neighboring areas like Ditmas Park, Midwood Park, Beverley Square West, Ditmas Park West, Fiske Terrace, etc. We go from Church Avenue on the North to Avenue H on the South Stratford Road on the West and on the East as far as Ocean Avenue. [A helpful map of Victorian Flatbush lives here.] It is the space, architecture and driveways!
BS: What can we expect for the future of the Victorian Flatbush real estate scene?
MKG: As for the future, it will go on and on, now that we are discovered!
BS: Finally, your favorite neighborhood, property, and block in Brooklyn.
MKG: My favorite neighborhood, of course, is Prospect Park South. It’s so convenient to everything – transportation, shopping, the expressway – and we have driveways! We can all park our cars, it’s not like Park Slope. My favorite property, I have to say, is my own, but I also like 189 Rugby Road… it’s well-done, beautiful inside and out. As for the best block, I am prejudiced and favor Marlborough Road, where I live. And so do many other people!