A row of lovely all-brick attached homes was erected on 69th Street between Northern Boulevard and 34th Avenue in 1931, with second-story apartments to produce income for the homeowners.
They were almost lost when the Brooklyn Queens Expressway came through the area, as planner Robert Moses & Co. seriously considered taking them under eminent domain and knocking them down. But after some community wrangling the block was spared.
The homes at the southern end of the block, near 34th Avenue, were rather distinctive, as they were covered in ivy. The one at the end, at 33-45 69 St., was owned by Clarence Dickson, who believed covering his house in ivy would keep it cool and dry in the summer. Since the home was fairly new, the invasion of roots which causes considerable damage to old homes with weak mortar wasn’t a concern. The home wound up looking like a “Chia Pet” — one of the terra cotta figures of rams, turtles, pigs, kittens, frogs and such that buyers get to cover in salvia sprouts.
The next owner of Dickson’s house, John H. Flynn, removed his masterpiece, and today the home and its neighbors look pristine, void of any foliage on the walls.