Building of the Day: 736 Bergen Street

The BOTD is a no-frills look at interesting structures of all types and from all neighborhoods. There will be old, new, important, forgotten, public, private, good and bad. Whatever strikes our fancy. We hope you enjoy.

Address: 736 Bergen Street, between Washington and Underwood
Name: Private House
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights
Year Built: Mid 19th century
Architectural Style: Italianate with modern alterations
Architects: Unknown
Landmarked: No

Why chosen: This is a sweet little house on its own, but what makes it unique are all the mysteries that surround it. Stylistically, it looks like a brick Greek Revival home, perhaps with a third half floor in the back, as evidenced by the roofline.

It also has a classic little Victorian portico with millwork ornamentation, and a very Victorian pressed metal cornice with garlands and brackets. This does not jibe stylistically or period-wise with the brick, and I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that a brick facade was placed on what was probably a clapboard house back sometime in the mid 20th century.

The colors of the brick, and the way they are laid to create the lintels is just not mid 19th century. But let’s get back to the way it sits on the street. The development of Prospect Heights is greatly due to the fact that the Flatbush Turnpike ran through it on its way past what is now Prospect Park, on out to Flatbush and beyond.

Parts of what is now park land was a swampy, disease, and mosquito-ridden hellhole that was to be avoided at all costs, so the road swung east to avoid it. Over the years as the city grid was extended to the area, a new Flatbush Avenue was laid down, a bit to the west of the original.

The swamps were drained and the Park was established, and the old roads were forgotten. This house, as well as several others on nearby Underhill and Prospect Place, are oriented to the OLD Flatbush Turnpike, hence the odd way they (almost) face the street. They are a constant reminder of Prospect Heights’ early years, and roads no longer traveled. (Thanks to Josh Jackson and his article on lostmag.com.)

Prospect Heights Brooklyn -- 736 Bergen Street History Prospect Heights Brooklyn -- 736 Bergen Street History

[Photos by Suzanne Spellen]

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