Building of the Day: 17-33 Linden Boulevard

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

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 17-33 Linden Boulevard
Cross Streets: Flatbush and Bedford Avenues
Neighborhood: Flatbush
Year Built: 1899-1900
Architectural Style: French Renaissance Revival
Architect: F.L. Lowe
Other buildings by architect: Standish Arms Hotel/Apts, Brooklyn Heights
Landmarked: No

The story: In 1899, a Chicago architect/builder/developer named Clarence H. Tabor came to NY, looking for new opportunities. Tabor was a successful architect/developer in the Chicago area, known for his suburban homes. He told the Brooklyn Eagle that in his opinion, after travelling throughout the country, that the Greater New York area had the most attractive suburbs of any city in America, and that Brooklyn was his best choice among boroughs, and Flatbush was the best choice in Brooklyn. He intended to live there, and begin his development business. At that time, Flatbush was fast becoming a middle and upper-class suburban community, with large suburban homes going up everywhere, as well as rows of excellent townhouses, and better apartment buildings.

Tabor quickly bought a large plot of land starting at Flatbush and Linden Blvd, and stretching 300’ down Linden. His plan was to build nine row houses and three apartment buildings, of which two now survive. He hired Brooklyn architect F. L. Lowe, who had a successful, though low-key career, with buildings like the now Standish Arms Apartments, on Columbia Heights, in Brooklyn Heights, to his name. Lowe designed the houses and the apartment buildings in a limestone and red brick French Renaissance Revival style, which the Brooklyn Eagle said was in the “Philadelphia and Chicago styles”.

According to the paper, the “Philadelphia” part was the exterior and interior appearances, while “Chicago” referred to their contiguous row appearance on the street. The paper also noted that the houses did not have basements, in what we now call English basement style houses. The interior of the row houses was as follows: “Upon entrance, the visitor is ushered into a wide hall, to the right of which is the parlor, with a large foyer in its rear extending from the other as an L. In this foyer is an elaborate mantle over an open grate fireplace. Behind the foyer is the dining room separated by the butler’s pantry from the kitchen, which is in a rear extension. On the second floor are three large bedrooms with dressers built in with hot and cold water, while the third floor contains three other rooms with a bath.”

The sales of the houses proceeded well, and in 1902, Tabor traded two of the apartment buildings for a property on Flatbush and Hawthorne, where he planned to build a fine, and expensive residential hotel. If he did do that, it’s no longer there. He did go on to build other suburban type single family houses in what is now called Victorian Flatbush.

Tabor and his wife appear in the Eagle’s society and events pages, and he got himself involved in local politics. In 1899, he also published a book called Tabor’s Modern Homes, which was a pattern book of designs of suburban homes, and other buildings. Clients could order the plans for his buildings, and receive blueprints and suggestions for interior finishings, etc. One of his houses, built from plan #2 in his book, is now called the Charles N. Loucks House, and is a Queen Anne suburban style house, located in Chicago. It was landmarked in 2008.

It’s interesting that these houses and the apartment buildings are nothing like Tabor’s own architectural work, as he seems to have left Mr. Lowe to his own designs, and was only interested in them as investments. Today, these houses still survive, and although altered, painted and otherwise “modernized” in several ways, still catch the attention of passersby. I’ve had several people ask me about them, and I’m happy to have found out something of their story. GMAP

One of the adjoining apartment buildings built at the same time as the houses.

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