Expanding Historic District Boundaries-Fort Greene

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FORT GREENE HISTORIC DISTRICT AND PROPOSED EXTENSION

The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 1978 designation report for the Fort Greene Historic District notes that the district, located just east of downtown Brooklyn, is one of the best-preserved nineteenth century residential districts in New York City. Developed primarily during the period from 1855-75, Fort Greene retains excellent examples of late Greek Revival, Italianate, Anglo-Italian, French Second Empire and neo-Grec houses. Fort Greene Park, designed by Frederick Law Omsted and Calvert Vaux in 1867 and constructed on the site of a Revolutionary War fort, remains today the focus of the neighborhood and the historic district.

The Fort Greene Landmarks Preservation Committee, a neighborhood group, initially proposed a Fort Greene Historic District in 1973. When the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Fort Greene Historic District five years later, it included in the designation Fort Greene Park, which was not part of the neighborhood’s original proposal. However, the LPC also excluded many of blocks proposed for designation. In fact, the LPC split the neighborhood into two districts – the Fort Greene Historic District and the Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District. The result was the omission of Fulton Street, the area’s commercial strip, as was typical of the LPC’s decisions at the time.

In 2001, the Historic Fort Greene Association, as the Committee re-named itself after achieving the goal of designation, put forth a new proposal for an expanded district. The new boundaries resemble those originally requested and propose to connect the Fort Greene and BAM Historic Districts. The new boundaries better reflect the traditional boundaries of the neighborhood, and they better coincide with the State and National Register District for the area, which was designated in 1983 and expanded a year later.

The proposed extension encompasses the commercial section along Fulton Street, connecting the existing Fort Greene and Brooklyn Academy of Music historic districts. In addition, the extension includes properties at the northern and southern edges of the existing district. In the north, the new boundaries would extend the district to include Willoughby Avenue between Carlton and Clermont Avenues, most of the interiors of those blocks extending toward Myrtle Avenue, and some sites along Vanderbilt Avenue. In the south, the extension takes in part of Fulton Street from Ashland Place to South Oxford, and all or part of the blocks flanking Fulton in that area. Most of the properties in the proposed extension are similar in period and style to those in the existing historic district. It is hoped and expected that designation would have the same positive effect on the properties included in the extension that it did when Fort Greene was initially designated.

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