A Touch of Fanciful Medieval French Style in Prospect Park South

Photo by Susan De Vries

Editor’s note: This story is an update of one that ran in 2011. Read the original here.

This neighborhood is an embarrassment of riches, with one interesting house after another. Some homes are larger and more ornate, some more modest in size and design, but all add up to a beautiful locality, creating a living experience quite unlike very many others in New York City.

The architects in Prospect Park South had to adhere to some basic rules that developer Dean Alvord devised, but outside of those, the imagination was the limit to the design of the houses. Because of that, a Stockbroker Tudor can sit next to a classic shingle-style Queen Anne, down the road from a Mediterranean villa.

184 marlborough

The LPC designation reports for the Prospect Park South Historic District calls this house at 184 Marlborough Road, completed in 1899, among the most interesting structures on the street. It’s lost a lot of detail over the century, including much of what made it Medieval French. The porch has been totally redesigned, eliminating much of the charm it had when the bays were supported by corbels, which became the supports for the arched openings that made up the veranda.

184 marlborough

A 1921 ad for the house shows the original porch design. Image via Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The candle-snuffer roofs once had finials with weather vanes, and the double windows on the second floor originally had a balcony similar to the one on the top floor. This beautiful arched window has been shortened to accommodate an air conditioner.

But in spite of the many changes, there is a lot of great stuff still remaining, enough so that the house still catches the eye when one is walking down the street. It was designed by John J. Petit, Dean Alvord’s chief architect of Prospect Park South for a time. It is one of his many designs borrowed from different cultures and eras.

184 marlborough

The first owner was Alfred Pagelow, a lawyer, who moved in in 1900. He, in turn, sold it in 1904 to George P. Glover, another lawyer. According to the Prospect Park South Association, the most well-known person to call the house home was Nelly Bly, the most famous female journalist of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Her record-breaking trip around the world and famous exposé of the horrors of New York City’s insane asylum at Blackwell’s Island, made her a household word. No corroborating proof, such as census data, or an address in the press has turned up.

References to Bly and her family in the neighborhood do appear at times, including a house at 1028 Beverley Road and 332 East 16th Street, briefly home to her brothers Harry and Albert Cochran.

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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