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Flatlands

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“The Kouwenhoven Farmhouse, the house that my great grandparents occupied from about 1900 until 1925 when the land was sold to developers and Kings Highway was expanded. The figures on the porch were farm hands.”

An old Dutch farm that once stood in Flatlands is gone but not forgotten. A Brownstoner reader sent in never-before-published family photos and stories of life on the farm circa 1900, when his great-grandfather lived there.

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This post courtesy of Explore Brooklyn, an all-inclusive guide to the businesses, neighborhoods, and attractions that make Brooklyn great.

Before Brooklyn was a cultural and arts destination, it was first a Dutch settlement known as Breuckelen — named after the town of Breukelen in the Netherlands. The Dutch colonized what is now present-day Brooklyn in 1646, establishing six different towns with defined borders. These original towns eventually became English settlements, and then the settlements were consolidated to create the City of Brooklyn. (Brooklyn wasn’t incorporated into greater New York City until 1898.)

The original six Brooklyn towns that would become Brooklyn were Bushwick, Brooklyn, Flatlands, Gravesend, New Utrecht and Flatbush. Present-day Brooklyn neighborhoods bearing these names are located roughly in the center of each of these original towns. Here are a few details of those six original towns, when Brooklyn looked a whole lot different than it does today.

Map of Brooklyn towns via Ephemeral New York.

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Adorable! That’s our description for this 1940s Neo-Colonial brick house in Flatlands. Original features include arched doorways, hardwood floors, and a blue and gray tiled bathroom with blue fixtures. Maybe an enterprising buyer could restore the rolled steel casement windows (still intact next door) and recently tiled floor in the entry and kitchen.

The kitchen, boiler, and hot water heater are new, and there is a garage, additional finished space on the ground level (with a “summer kitchen”), and a back yard. Do you think the ask of $469,000 is reasonable?

1247 East 53 Street [Corcoran] GMAP

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Midwood Trust Company, now Chase Bank
Address: 1984 Flatbush Avenue
Cross Streets: Corner Flatlands Avenue
Neighborhood: Flatlands
Year Built: 1926
Architectural Style: Flemish Renaissance Revival
Architect: Slee & Bryson
Other Buildings by Architect: Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival homes and apartment buildings in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights North and South, Park Slope and various parts of Flatbush, including Prospect Park South, Albemarle and Kenmore Terraces, and Ditmas Park.
Landmarked: No, but should be

The story: Our city’s Dutch ancestry is most often represented by the streets and neighborhoods now bearing the surnames of the many Dutch families who settled throughout Brooklyn. Now and again, we also see buildings that draw on the famous Dutch gabled farmhouses that managed to survive over the centuries. And then we have these wonderful examples of Flemish-inspired architecture that are so quintessentially Brooklyn and Dutch. They come from Flanders, that part of the Low Countries that was part of France, and is now part of Belgium, yet culturally still part of the Netherlands.

Lots of late 19th century architects were inspired by the distinctive ziggurat shaped stepped gables of the Flemish Renaissance period. These simple but elegant facades graced the townhouses, guild halls and commercial buildings of the Netherlands for centuries. When the Dutch came to New Netherlands, they brought their architecture with them, and these shapes turn up throughout the Hudson Valley and in and around New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.

Bergen Beach, with trolley service, napha.org

Read Part 1 of this story.

In 1896, two Brooklyn entrepreneurs, Thomas Adams, Jr. and Percy Williams bought the Jamaica Bay side of Bergen Island, off the coast of Flatlands and Canarsie. The island had belonged to the Bergen family for centuries, and was part of an isolated community of small farms in this rural part of Brooklyn which still supplied the markets of Wallabout and Manhattan with produce, dairy and meat.