The land on which West Midwood was built was once part of the extensive Flatbush holdings of the Lott family. The Lotts traced their origins back to Peter Lott, who migrated to Flatbush from Holland in 1652 when Flatbush (or Vlachtebos, as the Dutch called it) was a Dutch farming town.
West Midwood was named after the circular patch of woods that stood long ago at the center of southern Brooklyn. Located between Foster Avenue and Avenue H and between Coney Island Avenue and the Q/B subway line within the larger Brooklyn community of Flatbush, it is in many ways like a small town. From 1904-1908, our homes were constructed in the western-most portion of the Germania Real Estate and Improvement Company’s vast housing development, which extended from Flatbush Avenue to Coney Island Avenue. The developers advertised the new neighborhoods as “country living in the city,” which West Midwood truly evokes with its tree-lined streets and graceful Victorian-era frame houses. Most of our street trees—mainly London Planes and maples – are now 100 years old.
When the community was first developed, the Avenue H train station was named Hawthorne Road and was the last stop on the line. (The station is now in the process of being landmarked and restored.) Many passengers stayed overnight at the Oak Hotel on Avenue H before proceeding by horse coach to the biggest entertainment and racetrack resort in the world: Coney Island-Brighton Beach.
In keeping with West Midwood’s small-town character, modern-day residents host such annual or periodic events as a Progressive Dinner, a neighborhood yard sale, a children’s parade on Halloween, and a summer block party. New residents to the neighborhood are visited by the official welcoming committee and are invited to join West Midwood’s Community Association, which dates back to the neighborhood’s earliest years.
Sources and related links
The source for much of the information in this brief history is Nedda C. Allbray’s Flatbush, The Heart of Brooklyn (Arcadia Publishing, 2004).
Also see www.rapidtransit.com/net/thirdrail/9912/index.htm for an article (with photos from 1906) on the history of the train station at Avenue H.
The photo and caption that follow are from www.hometown.aol.com/WestMidwoodhx/MyHomePage/Index.html
1903 photo of Argyle Road and Westminster Road From Glenwood Road to Ave H
Glenwood Road, looking due south, between Argyle Road on the left and Westminster Road on the right. Notice what appears to be a billboard erected on the east side of Westminster Road, facing what would have been rail traffic on Coney Island Avenue, no doubt advertising the homes then being built here. One can make out what appears to be a small shed midway up the block on Argyle Road. There appear to be 4 houses built close to the Brighton Rail Road line before the rails were submerged in a cut. The thick trees in the distance are in the wooded-but-soon-to-be-developed neighborhood of Fiske Terrace. The developer wrote of this photo “Easterly sector of South Midwood. Photo is taken from Avenue G (Glenwood Road) at 12th Street looking southwest. On this section we broke ground the day before election day in 1903 and in less than a year we had built 40 two-family houses and sold all of them in a total of 15 months from date of breaking ground. The enterprise was conducted with other developments in Flatbush and constituted possibly 50% of our business during the year.