Flatbush Sears Store May Yet be Named a Landmark
This Tuesday, March 28th, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will host another public hearing on landmarking the Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Building at 2307 Beverly Road in Flatbush. The first hearing for the building was in March of last year. No vote will be taken Tuesday on its designation. Here is the full historic write-up from the LPC:
The Flatbush branch of Sears Roebuck & Company is an impressive late example of the Art Deco style. Located close to Flatbush Avenue at the southeast corner of Bedford Avenue and Beverly Road, this prominent three-story retail structure was designed by the Chicago architects Nimmons, Carr & Wright, in association with Alton L. Craft of New York City. Sears announced plans to erect a large department store in Brooklyn in March 1932 as part of a larger program to enter the New York area market. Founded as a catalogue company in the early 1890s, it did not enter the retail market until 1925. Neither the Sears Company nor Nimmons had much, if any, experience with chain store design. In the late 1920s, they gradually moved away from classicism and settled on a restrained yet stylish corporate image enlivened by Art Deco details.
Like most of their projects, these stores were planned for the motoring age. Located on or close to major streets, customer parking was provided at no charge. To distinguish each branch from more utilitarian structures, most locations featured a highly-visible tower with signage on four sides, as well as panels or thin bands of abstract two-dimensional relief that emphasized the location of the original street entrances and tower. At the opening of the Flatbush store in November 1932, Eleanor Roosevelt addressed the audience. It was her last public appearance before her husband Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected the 32nd president of the United States. In spite of difficult economic times, this branch was a great success and provided considerable employment to Brooklyn residents. The building was significantly expanded in 1940, adding four seamless bays along Beverly Road, as well as additional square footage at the rear. Of the three large retail outlets that Sears opened in the metropolitan area during 1932, the Flatbush store is only one that continues to operate. While much of the original fenestration is currently disguised by plastic panels and the large display windows have been removed, the street elevations are generally well preserved and retain their historic materials and characteristics.