On a corner lot, this grand early 20th century limestone offers more than a fair amount of space along with mantels, built-ins and other period details — not to mention the perk of a garage. Its location, at 53 St. Pauls Place in Flatbush, also has the attraction of being just a short walk from Prospect Park.
It is one of a row of houses that took the place of the mansard-roofed William and Julia Matthews mansion, which sold, along with its extensive grounds, in 1907 to the C.H. Tabor Land and Improvement Company. The mansion remained while part of the property was developed with two-family homes, but in 1910 the mansion itself was finally demolished and construction began on the planned single-family homes.
The limestones houses on this stretch all have full-height bays, some angled and some bowed, and are topped with bracketed cornices. The one at No. 53, one of the bowed-front houses, sits at the end of the row, with a facade that wraps around Crooke Avenue. The limestone front on the Saint Paul’s side has some foliate ornament along with Classical touches like the pilasters that stretch up to a mock balustrade. The brick facade along Crooke Avenue is a bit more subdued but limestone trim around the windows enlivens it.
A 1919 ad for the property shows a wonderful glimpse of the extension on the side facade, which once had an open and columned second-story porch with a “glass enclosed billiard room” above and a solarium below.
While it has been substantially altered, some details remain, including a cornice separating the brick lower level from the sided upper story. At the very top, it still has some of its original clerestory window openings, although the diamond-paned casements below have been replaced with double-hung windows. A Google Maps glimpse of the rear facade shows neighboring houses in the row with some other surviving details.
Built as a single-family, the now two-family home was an Open House Pick back in 2019 but didn’t sell and is back on the market with a new broker and price. The listing photos are new, but it doesn’t look like any major changes have been made since it was last available. The top floor unit has just a small kitchenette tucked into a closet, going by the floor plan, so some might use the house as a single-family.
The details of the triple parlors are intact, including the wood floors with inlaid border; the Ionic-columned mantel and built-in bench of the middle parlor; and the coffered ceiling, wainscoting and plate shelf in the dining room. In the latter is also another Ionic-columned mantel.
The kitchen is tucked at the rear of the parlor level, just beyond the second set of stairs in the rear extension. It is perhaps small in comparison to the scale of the rest of the house.
Upstairs there is a bit of flexibility in the floor plan. Set in the rounded bay is a bedroom with two closets, a half bath and a Jack and Jill full bath shared with an adjoining room. That room, accessible via the main and rear staircases, has a sink and closet in the passthrough and could be used as a living room to create one large suite. Both rooms have painted, columned mantels with overmantel mirrors. Another bedroom with a sink and a home office or sunroom are in the extension.
The top floor has more bedroom space and, in the extension, the former billiard room, which is encased in 1970s era paneling and has an exposed beam ceiling and clerestory windows on two exposures.
Set back from the street, the property has a patch of green space at the front and along the side. But with the rear extension and the garage taking up much of the rear, there is just a sliver of yard at the back. The garage makes another style statement: It has Ionic pilasters framing the more modern garage door.
The property hasn’t changed hands in decades and is now listed with Patricia (Patty) LaRocco and Maria Goretti of Douglas Elliman at $2.25 million. Will it move at the new price?
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