I strongly recommend a sightseeing trip to Maple Street between Flatbush and Bedford Avenues in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. It’s such a strange, beautiful block that photographs fail to do it justice. Yards, porticos, wide driveways with garages, and Spanish tiles on the roofs suggest a life of luxury.
These brick houses were designed in the early 20th century by Axel Hedman, a Brooklyn architect, and, according to the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation, are “typical of the prosperous suburbs of the day”. The street became known as “Doctor’s Row”. Most of the residences on Maple Street date from 1922-1927.
Historically related is Lincoln Road, one block to the north. Its frame houses are older, in some cases dating from the 19th century. Even in the fading twilight, though, it’s easy to admire their beauty.
Thanks to some very old covenants and a historic designation, these buildings remain one-family dwellings. James Lefferts founded “Lefferts Manor” in 1893, parceling his land to developers under very specific rules. The buildings had to cost $5,000, be at least two stories with a cellar, and be set back at least fourteen feet from the street, among other restrictions. Factories and any other “noxious, offensive, dangerous, unwholesome … business whatsoever” were banned from the area.
Lefferts’s house has since been moved to Prospect Park, where it serves as a museum called Lefferts Homestead. It’s got that classic Dutch style, which is missing from the neighborhood today.