Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Construction of a new residential building has begun in the vacant lot at the northeast corner of McDonald Avenue at Fort Hamilton Parkway in Windsor Terrace. The lot had been unused for more than a decade, since the passing of the last member of the family to own it.

Twelve condo units plus off-street parking will occupy the space at 271 McDonald Avenue, also known as 3127 Fort Hamilton Parkway. The three-story building will be 30 feet tall.

The owners and developers are 3127 Ft. Hamilton LLC and 79 Locust Ave. LLC; they purchased the property in December 2016.

An LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) is an unincorporated business. It's made up of one or more people who are members--not shareholders or partners--and they have limited responsibility for the business's obligations and liabilities.

The Manker Family

Frank Manker + Sons - Flowers 
Photo by John D. Morrell, December 15, 1958
Collection of the Brooklyn Historical Society 

In the photo above, the six-story co-op apartment building at 243 McDonald Avenue is visible. It and the apartment building next to it at 221 McDonald were erected in 1953 on the former site of some of the greenhouses owned by the Manker family.

For more than seventy-five years, the Manker family owned property in Windsor Terrace on which they built greenhouses. Around 1914, they opened a floral retail store near the corner of McDonald Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway. Their multi-generational family business began in 1889 and endured into the late 1960s.
Lower left corner: Manker greenhouses 
Atlas of the Borough of Brooklyn, 1929
E. Belcher Hyde Map. Company, Publisher

The 1929 map above shows five of the family's greenhouses. They're not only on McDonald Avenue but also on the west and east sides of E. 2nd Street.

The family owned and lived in the two-story house next to the corner lot, at 3119 Fort Hamilton Parkway. A driveway whose entrance is on McDonald Avenue is still standing behind the lot, and a detached garage still stands behind the house.

In the July 24, 1915, edition of The American Florist, Frank Manker Sr. is cited as "one of the leading growers of Brooklyn."

The 1916 edition of Florist & Nursery Exchange reports that the author paid a visit to
"the firm of Chas. Manker, Gravesend ave. [now McDonald Avenue] and Fort Hamilton ave. [now Fort Hamilton Parkway], So. Brooklyn. Mr. Manker has been here since 1889, and now owns the ground on which he started. His glass amounts to 30,000 sq. ft. Two years ago he erected a show house or conservatory at the corner of the two avenues, where a retail business is done in connection with Greenwood Cemetery opposite, also with the residents around.
There is a brisk trolley service along Greenwood ave. to Coney Island, and to 16th ave. The neighborhood is building up, and Mr. Manker finds the rates on his property mounting steadily." 

The entry points out that he has two large span-roofed greenhouses. It also mentions that three of his sons were also in the floral business.

Philip Manker is listed in The Commercial Register, New York, of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Richmond, and the Bronx and Vicinity, 1919-1920 at 3119 Fort Hamilton Avenue as "Manager, Greenwood Avenue, Brooklyn."

An obituary in The New York Times of March 25, 1967, reads 
"Philip Manker, a florist for 58 years, who retired in 1965 from his shop at 3127 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, died yesterday at Lutheran Medical Center. He was 74 years old and lived at 9108 Colonial Road, Brooklyn. Surviving are his widow, the former Katherine Krauss; a son, Alfred W.; a brother, Charles, and two sisters, Mrs. Elizabeth Krauss and Mrs. Lillian Podlesney."

Philip's son Alfred still lived at 3119 Fort Hamilton Parkway when he died in 2005 at the age of 86. The corner lot had served as his backyard, a bower with a rivulet and a small footbridge traversing it.

After his passing, the bower was leveled and the property put up for sale, selling in 2005 for $1,400,000, in 2014 for $2,200,000 and in 2016 for $2,900,000.

Long-time neighborhood residents have fond memories of buying flowers at Manker's for First Holy Communions, Mother's Day, weddings, and funerals at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church as well as for corsages for teenage girls' birthdays.