Building of the Day: 183 Argyle Road

183 Argyle Road, Prospect Park South

Editor’s note: An updated version of this post can be viewed here.

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Herbert F. Krantz House
Address: 183 Argyle Road, between Beverley and Albemarle Roads
Neighborhood: Prospect Park South in larger Victorian Flatbush
Year Built: 1907
Architectural Style: Neo-Tudor Revival
Architect: John J. Petit
Other buildings by architect: in PPS – 131 Buckingham Rd, the Japanese House (Petit and Green) 1510 Albemarle Rd, other 375 Stuyvesant Ave, Stuyvesant Hts.
Landmarked: Yes, as part of the Prospect Park South Historic District.

The story: Architect John J. Petit was a partner in the firm of Kirby, Petit & Green, responsible for many fine residential and commercial buildings in Brooklyn, designed in the last decade of the 19th century, on into the 20th. Their largest commission, however, was not a building, but an amusement park, Dreamland, in Coney Island, which opened in 1904, built by former Senator and mega-real estate developer, William Reynolds. There, they designed all kinds of fantasy attractions, borrowing from the architecture of the world, to create international style buildings and recreate places that most of the paying customers would never see in real life. Petit would also work with Reynolds in the development of Laurelton, Queens, another designed suburban enclave much like Prospect Park South. When Dean Alvord, the developer and creator of this community, hired John Petit as his chief architect, it should come as no surprise that Petit would enjoy creating houses that borrowed from various cultures, periods and styles. His houses in PPS are a delightful mixture of whatever must have crossed his mind; Japanese traditional architecture, Colonial Revival, Mediterranean/Spanish Revival and more. This house channels the half-timbered Tudor style houses, popular in British Arts and Crafts architecture of the day, making a comeback there, as well as the new Banker’s Tudors catching on in the affluent suburbs of New York. Although there are several other Tudors in Prospect Park South, this is Petit’s only house in this style, and it is considered the best example of Tudoresque architecture in PPS. The house was built for Herbert F. Krantz, a wealthy inventor, whose Krantz Manufacturing Company would be associated with Westinghouse Electric and Western Electric. He moved here from Park Slope, and he also dabbled in real estate, establishing his own suburban enclave in NJ, a suburb of Paterson called, appropriately, Prospect Park, NJ. This is one of the larger houses in a neighborhood of large houses, and is a beautifully detailed modern Tudor. Only here, the half timbering and stucco finish is purely decorative, not structural; all of the details, like a Dreamland attraction, merely added to what is a large post-Victorian wood frame or wooden house. But what fakery! The beautiful carved strapwork, foliage and geometric details, the stained glass and diamond shaped windows, the brackets on the porch, and the roof lines of the dormers, this is all great stuff, making this one of PPS’s most beautiful homes.

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