By 1847, George Hulst was leasing a large parcel of land adjacent to Fresh Pond Road from Jacobus Debevoise, and several years later purchased the property.49 Originally from Williamsburgh, George Hulst50 (1811-1902), was the son of Sarah Duryea and Anthony Hulst, who “was owner of the largest farm in Brooklyn at one time.”51 George Hulst took up farming like his father, but by the 1860s began to sell off lots from his over-65-acre estate. In 1868, the land comprising the northern portion of the district was sold to Michael Schwamb, whose son Theodore continued to farm the property into the early 20th century. Over 8 acres, which include the southern portion of the district, later became the Fleckenstein Farm; George’s son Edward T. Hulst, also a farmer, continued to occupy the eastern portion of his father’s property in 1886. Gustave Mathews purchased the Fleckenstein property in 1907, and Michael Schwamb’s widow, Katharina, sold portions of their former farm to Mathews the following year.53 (Figure 13) The plans for the earliest buildings in the Ridgewood North Historic District, those on both sides of Gates Avenue, were filed in 1908 and 1909 and list Louis Berger & Company54 as the architect. Louis Berger & Co. was the architect of record for over 5,000 buildings in Ridgewood and Bushwick between 1895 and 1930. Born in 1875 in Rheinpfalz, Germany, Berger immigrated to America as a young boy in 1880 and settled in Ridgewood in 1892. He studied architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and served as an apprentice with the firm Carrere & Hastings before establishing his own firm in Bushwick in 1895. His specialty was the design of tenement houses 52
49 Queens County, Office of the Register, Conveyance Liber 73, 298 (November 5, 1847); Liber 88, 57 (March 31, 1851). Captions on photos of the Hulst house in the collection of the Queens Public Library, Long Island Division, indicate that their former farmhouse, located on Fresh Pond Road, was in the family for around 50 years.
50 George Hulst was the sixth generation of his family born in Kings County and is descended from Yohennes Holsaert, who emigrated from the city of Hulst in Holland in 1684 and settled at Flatlands. Hulst married Mary Tompkins of Newtown in 1836 and had five children, Edward T., Peter, Ester (Hester), William, and Geroge, who became a well-known reverend of the South Bushwick Reformed Church and co-founder of the Brooklyn Academy of Arts and Sciences. After his wife’s death, George was remarried to Anna Eliza Colyer in the 1850s. Brooklyn Botanical Garden, “The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Herbarium: Type Collection,” available on-line (May 7, 2009) at: http://www.bbg.org/sci/herbarium/collections/index.html.
51 “Obituary,” Broolyn Daily Eagle (March 30, 1902), 54. This farm was likely the old Duryea homestead at Penny Bridge, where George was born. The 17th century house was located at the foot of Meeker Avenue and Newtown Creek, and was alleged to be George Washington’s headquarters while he was in the area during the Revolutionary War. Census records indicate that members of the Duryea family held slaves, likely used to work the farm. (“17th Century House, On a Bluff at the foot of Meeker Avenue,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle (August 26, 1888), 6.)
52 Queens County, Office of the Register, Conveyance Liber 248, 48 ( September 28, 1868); Beers Atlas 1886; Hyde 1903; “Copy from Map of Property Belonging to George Hulst, Situate in the Town of New Town, Queens County, L. I.,” surveyed November 1865 by John L. Nostrand; United States Federal Census: 1860, 1900.
53 A portion of the land in the district was purchased through the Edgar Improvement Company in 1908. Schubel, 120; Queens County, Office of the Register, Conveyance Liber 1590, 239 (October 28, 1908); Liber 1598, 299 (December 10, 1908); Liber 1638, 270 (July 16, 1909); Liber 1663, 419 (December 17, 1909).
54 This section on Louis Berger & Co. is based on the following sources: Ridgewood Multiple Resource Area; Landmarks Preservation Commission, Research Files; and “Society of Architects and the Tenement Law,” Real Estate Record and Guide (March 7, 1908), 404.