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Browncroft Extension, Depression, Bankruptcy and other Subdivisions

The majority of the lots in the Browncroft subdivision had been sold by 1926. However, there was so much demand for additional home sites that C.J. Brown developed new plans for what became the Browncroft Extension. The land for this project extended from Newcastle Road eastward almost to Landing Road, from Browncroft Boulevard southward to Blossom Road. The 200-acre area was divided into 500 lots.

C.J. Brown envisioned a "suburban" extension of his "Browncroft Dream." The area was to be endowed with all the characteristics that made the original Browncroft subdivision so attractive. He built roads and sidewalks similar to those in Browncroft. On Corwin Road, he constructed a beautiful stone bridge over the brook that divided the area. He put in trees and ornamental plants to make the landscaping comparable to that in Browncroft. He did everything he could to convince potential buyers that the Extension was the perfect place in which to build a home "expressing individuality", to find "seclusion without isolation", and to enjoy "rolling hillsides, great shade trees and picturesque streams." (15)

The Extension was originally just what its name implied - an extension of the original Browncroft. In the 1950’s the State laid claim to a strip of land west of Clover Street. With the construction of the Seabreeze Expressway (now 590) in the early 1960’s Browncroft and the Extension were divided. People still find it confusing that Corwin Road, Windemere Road, and Dorchester Road continue on the other side of the expressway.

The Depression and Bankruptcy

C.J. Brown and his company were casualties of the Great Depression of the 1930’s. He had invested heavily in the new Extension and had developed another subdivision, called "Orchard Park", north of Empire Boulevard. His business was so overextended it was unable to survive when few, if any, lots in the new developments were sold.

Mr. Brown died in 1933. His organization was bankrupt. Browncroft Park, between Corwin Road and Dorchester Road, was left completely unattended. The duck pond eventually became stagnant and a breeding place for mosquitoes. The bank, which had taken over the land responded to complaints by filling in the pond in the 1940’s. The remainder of the park was neglected and became overgrown and "jungle-like".

The rest of the area also suffered from neglect. Parkways were no longer maintained by the Brown organization. By 1935, many homes had been taken over by the banks. Many others were listed for sale by individual owners. There were few buyers even at prices of five and six thousand dollars. Vacancies remained until the start of World War II when the area began to revive.

Other Subdivisions In The Area

What is popularly known today as the Browncroft area is really made up of several different subdivisions.

The Sheils owned a farm of 41 acres in the area to the northeast of the corner of Winton Road and Merchants Road. In 1923 they subdivided the farm to establish the “Elmcroft” area. The subdivision encompassed Elm Drive, Elmcroft Road (formerly Sheil Street), Berwick Road, Lanark Crescent, and Monticello Drive. The Sheils, like the Browns, imposed restrictions on the land, the most interesting being that "an elm tree be set out on each lot." In the 1960’s all the elms were lost to the Dutch Elm Disease.

Ruth Plummer can recall only three houses being on the yet unpaved street when she moved to Elm Drive in 1924. Jim’s Hill. a popular sledding spot for neighborhood children, was to the east of Elm Drive and Monticello Drive.

The Charltons were nurserymen who owned land on the north side of Browncroft Boulevard and east toward Irondequoit Creek. They intended to develop the land where the expressway is today. North of Browncroft Boulevard they planned to develop a "Charlton Manor" subdivision which would have included an extension of Newcastle Road as well as several parallel streets to the east of it. While old maps show these streets, these plans never materialized. The John Charlton home, at 116 Browncroft Boulevard, was built in 1914 and remained in the family until 1978.

Ellen and James Kingsbury bought the area around Quentin Road in 1906 and started the Kingsbury subdivision in 1911. Quentin Road was originally named Kingsbury Street.

The DePotter subdivision was located where Croydon Road is today. Abraham DePotter owned land northward from Blossom Road towards Dorchester Road. The Browns later bough part of the tract, extended DePotter Street to Dorchester Road and renamed it Croydon Road.

Southwest of Browncroft was the Wintondale subdivision which predates the Browncroft subdivision. It included Arbordale Avenue and all the streets running between Arbordale Avenue and Winton Road. Many of these streets originally had names such as Magnolia, Wisteria, and Chestnut.

For more information on these and other subdivisions, see Appendix I.