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Edwin Litchfield (1815 – 1885) was born in Delhi, New York, trained as a lawyer, founded the law firm of Litchfield and Tracy in 1848 and moved to 123 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village. He and his two brothers, Electus Litchfield (1817-1888) and Egbert Litchfield (dates unknown), became railroad investors and contractors. By the 1850’s, With the income from his position as treasurer and president of the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroads, Litchfield began buying up large tracks of farm land in Brooklyn. He owned a square mile of land that is currently 1st Street to 9th Street, from the Gowanus Creek to Prospect Park. He planned to develop the land from 4th Avenue to the Park for residential use and the land below 4th Avenue for industrial use.
He also began construction on a large home, designed by A.J. Davis, which became known as Litchfield Castle in 1854. He moved into the house with his wife, Grace, and three children in 1857, and quickly began developing his property, maintaining the land around his home as an estate. By the end of the Civil War he began selling properties to developers.
By the 1880s newspapers advertised Park Slope as an aristocratic district of brownstone homes. Homes sold for $28,000 to $30,000 when similar homes in Manhattan were selling for $50,000 to $60,000. This made Park Slope enticing to many looking for new homes.
Manhattan's Central Park, designed in 1858, gave rise to plans for a comparable park in Brooklyn. General Viele suggested to Litchfield that the woodland adjacent to Litchfield’s castle be developed into a park. The plan so impressed Litchfield that he and several friends prepared the necessary papers and went to Albany to enact the required legislation. The early plan approached, but did not include Litchfield's house. Later, the landscape firm of Olmsted & Vaux revised the plan to enlarge the park and include Litchfield's house.
According to Donald E. Simon, the Curator of Prospect Park from 1969 to 1975, ''He [Litchfield] fought the enlargement intensively…'', Litchfield left for a European trip believing his house would not be acquired, but the New York State Legislature, who controlled the project condemned the house while he was abroad. He was granted a lease, which allowed him to continue living in the house until 1883. Afterwards he returned to Europe where he died in 1885