Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 House Tour: 15 Prospect Park West

This house will be featured on the 2010 Park Slope House Tour, which will be held Sunday, May 16. Tickets will be available at 7th Avenue merchants, and through the Park Slope Civic Council's website.

15-13 Prospect Park West, Park Slope Historic District

15 Prospect Park West, one of an identical pair of residences, was built in 1919 for Walter Kraslow and designed by Brooklyn architect William T. McCarthy. These houses exemplify the neo-Tudor style that was very popular in the years following the First World War. Historian Francis Morrone notes that these are among the last single-family residences constructed in Park Slope. A continuous balustrade supporting heraldic animals above the first story ties the two buildings together.

A noteworthy feature of these houses is the central driveway leading to separate garage space in the rear of the lots, reflecting the growing importance of the automobile in daily life. The driveway creates a break in the "street wall", and a curb cut for access to the street; both radical departures from earlier urban design in Park Slope.

Ultimately, as the automobile grew ever more important, and as cities sprawled into suburbs, the garage, which began as a separate outbuilding, crept ever closer to, and finally merged with, the primary residence:

1950s house

In modern houses the garage, enlarged to accomodate two or even three automobiles, becomes the dominant feature of the facade, and residents of such "drive-in" homes become accustomed to using the "garage door" rather than the "front door" to enter the residence. The front yard is overwhelmed by a vast parking lot:

1990s house

Walter Kraslow died a suicide, aged 45, in 1928. A New York Times article notes that he was depressed and brooding about business reversals in the time leading up to his death:

New York Times, August 23, 1928, p. 26

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