Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture Mansion Sells for $13.5 Million, Setting Neighborhood Record

The historic Brooklyn mansion, located on Prospect Park West, has been sold to an undisclosed buyer, rumored to be the nearby private school, Poly Prep.

The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture mansion, an iconic neo-Jacobean house located at 53 Prospect Park West, has recently been sold for $13.5 million. While it still managed to set a neighborhood record, it fell short of breaking the Brooklyn record set by a $25.5 million brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. The buyer of the mansion has yet to be officially disclosed, but rumors suggest that the neighboring private school, Poly Prep, may be the new owner. The sale of this historic property has sparked intrigue and speculation among real estate experts and community members alike.

The Perfect Fit for Poly Prep:

The potential buyer of the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture mansion seems to be the private school, Poly Prep. The mansion, which was used as a community center and events space for the past 74 years, is zoned for commercial use. The property’s massive size and historical significance would require extensive renovations to be converted into a single-family home. Real estate brokers estimate that the conversion and updates alone would cost around $10 million, making it an ideal fit for a private institution like Poly Prep.

Versatile Appeal:

The mansion’s unique features and prominent location made it appealing to a wide range of potential buyers. With its 100-foot width and proximity to Prospect Park, the property attracted interest from single-family users, commercial ventures, and even proposals for a farm-to-table restaurant similar to Blue Hill. However, the challenges posed by its public exposure and landmark status made it clear that selling it as a single-family home would be a significant challenge.

The Challenges of Selling a Landmarked Property:

The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture mansion’s landmark status presented significant obstacles to potential buyers. As a landmarked property, any changes made to the building would be subject to scrutiny by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The visibility of the proposed alterations from the street became a crucial consideration for the commission. This uncertainty surrounding the ability to enlarge the building and the limitations imposed by the landmark designation likely influenced the final sale price.


The sale of the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture mansion for $13.5 million has set a neighborhood record, although it falls short of the borough’s record. The potential buyer, rumored to be Poly Prep, a private school located next door, seems to be the ideal fit for the property’s commercial zoning and extensive renovation requirements. The mansion’s unique features, including its size, historical significance, and proximity to Prospect Park, attracted interest from various buyers. However, the challenges posed by its landmark status and public exposure made selling it as a single-family home a difficult proposition. The sale of this iconic property highlights the complexities and considerations involved in the real estate market, particularly for historically significant buildings in prominent locations.

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