Mathews Model Flats are artistically designed buildings with variations of light and dark brick, elaborate cornices and charmingly intricate brick patterns. While each block looks pleasingly similar, variety and creativity is found on separate streets in the details of the lintels, cornices and railings. Advertised as “Solving the Housing Problem” they were so innovative that they were exhibited at the Panama Pacific Fair in 1915 as one of the most significant accomplishments in housing from New York City. Built by the creative developer Gustave X. Mathews, they were in such demand that in 1917, it was said that if laid side by side, these houses would make a line more than 4 and one half miles long. A notable architectural feature in their original model is the incorporation of Romanesque Revival Arched windows on the third floor. These houses can be found in Ridgewood (listed on the National Registry of Historic Places), Long Island City, Woodside with later developments in Elmhurst.
Most of the bricks come from the kilns of the Kreischerville Brick Works on Staten Island. These glazed bricks are speckled or iron-spotted so they tend to sparkle in the light, always looking fresh and new.
Each house has 6 apartments with two units per floor. Theses house show the interplay of the light and dark brick work.
An example of one of the original models, with the ornate cornice and Romanesque Revival arched windows.
Although each doorway looks the same, if one looks closely, there is something different above the entrance of each one.
GX Mathews paid meticulous attention to detail in all his buildings. This insured good workmanship on his houses which makes them a worthwhile long term investment.
GX Mathews had building homes down to a science but each one is the work of an artist. The sides are often adorned with elaborately patterned brickwork of diamonds, crosses, triangles or squares in contrasting light and dark bricks.
Elmhurst was the GX Mathews last major development in New York. Still in keeping with the contrasting light and dark brick work, these are single family homes with the railings influenced by the railings on ocean liners.