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Flatlands Library - Local History & Photos
The Flatlands Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library takes its name from the surrounding neighborhood. Established in 1636, Flatlands is a low-lying area southwest of Canarsie and jutting out into Jamaica Bay. Efforts to establish a branch library in this community began in August 1930, when the Board of Estimate offered $40,000 for a branch library at Avenue N and Flatbush Ave. But with the onset of the economic crisis caused by the Great Depression, this offer was withdrawn. In 1932 another movement began for a proposed site at Quentin Road and Hendrickson Street, but it was not until October 10, 1949 that a branch library finally opened in the neighborhood.
The Flatlands Branch, then located at 1972 Flatbush Avenue, occupied a small space that had previously been a branch of the Prudential Savings Bank. It was one of four branches opened at that time and its most unusual architectural feature was a large bank vault, too expensive to move, which was used as a staff workroom. The branch soon outgrew these restricted quarters. The present building at 2065 Flatbush Avenue was opened on Jan. 25, 1955. The triangular site on Flatbush Avenue opposite Avenue P was large enough to construct a building of 6,000 square feet and a small parking lot. Flatlands was the first Brooklyn Public Library branch to move into rented quarters specially designed for library purposes. This policy, (which became known as the Beame Plan), of having a private investor build to library specifications and rent the building back to the city, became almost standard practice during the 1950's and 1960's.
In 1985, a portion of the building was renovated, and in 1987, Flatlands became one of the first branches to add a video collection. Currently the branch continues its fifty-year tradition of service to the community through a Child's Place facility geared to children with special needs, as well as a wide range of information resources and programming.
The Hendrick I. Lott House (1940 East 36th St.) was first built in 1676 and brought by Johannes Lott in 1719. In 1800, Hendrick built the Gambrel-roofed main part of the House. Flatlands Dutch reformed Church (3931 Kings Highway), originally built in 1663, is one of three churches ordered to be constructed by Governor Peter Stuyvesant. The church's cemetery includes the graves of many prominent Dutch landowner, Native Americans, and some of the earliest free African-Americans in Brooklyn.