Category Archives: buildings

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

1912.Stapley

A. G. Byne, “The Old Fashioned Garden of the Lady Moody House in Gravesend,” in Mildred Stapley, “The Last Dutch Farmhouses in New York City,” Architectural Record, vol. 32, no. 1 (July 1912), 35.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has released its designation report for the house at 27 Gravesend Neck Road, forever known as “Lady Moody’s House,” but officially called the “Van Sicklen House” for the family who built it in the early-to-mid-1700s and occupied it until the start of the 20th century. Read the fascinating report online at:

http://s-media.nyc.gov/agencies/lpc/lp/2145.pdf

There are pictures beginning at page 16. Perhaps someday the house will be restored to look as it did in the 1912 photograph above. For now, at least, it is safe.


Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

 

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Filed under Hicks family, Lady Moody House, Van Sicklen family

Greetings from Gravesend

There are picture postcards of virtually every community in the country, however small. In some cases they provide the only photographic documentation of a place. Many older views have become scarce and command high prices from collectors. The six Gravesend scenes below were published between 1907 and 1911 by “F. Johnson,” who was very likely Frederick Van Kleek Johnson (1875-1930), keeper of a general store. It’s hard to imagine such a countrified institution existing in Brooklyn, but Gravesend remained a quiet, rural neighborhood into the 20th century, as these postcards attest. You may have seen some of them separately, but here’s the complete set.

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[1] Village Road [North], Gravesend, N.Y., ca. 1907-11 {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

[1] Frederick Van Kleek Johnson’s general store occupied the building at the left in this view of Village Road North looking east from Van Sicklen Street towards McDonald Avenue. It stood where Lady Moody Triangle is today. The street names “Village Road North,” “Village Road East,” and “Village Road South,” were not set in stone early on; they were often lumped together under the directionless “Village Road.” Today’s Village Road North was once called “Ryder Place” for the many Ryder family members who lived there.

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[2] Firehouse and Town Hall, Gravesend, N.Y., ca. 1907-11 {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

[2] Gravesend’s last town hall, at 2337 McDonald Avenue (southeast corner of Gravesend Neck Road), went up in 1873. The building held an auditorium on the second floor, a courtroom on ground level, and four basement jail cells. After the City of Brooklyn annexed Gravesend in 1894, the structure housed the predecessor of Fire Engine Company 254. It was demolished in 1913.

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[3] M. E. Church, Neck Road, Gravesend, N.Y., ca. 1907-11 {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

[3] This small wooden chapel at 14 Gravesend Neck Road began life as the Sunday School / lecture room of the Gravesend Reformed Dutch Church (GRDC). It was built about 1854 near the northwest corner of McDonald Avenue and Gravesend Neck Road, just south of the 1834 sanctuary of the GRDC. When the congregation moved to 121 Gravesend Neck Road in 1893/94, it took the lecture room to the new site to house services while the new church was under construction. In 1899 the little building was sold for one dollar to the fledgling Gravesend Methodist Episcopal Church (GMEC) and moved — for the second time — to the southeast corner of Gravesend Neck Road and Van Sicklen Street. After the GMEC disbanded in 1914, the building housed the Coney Island Pentecostal Church, which replaced it in 1937 with the current stone structure on the site. The latter building is now the First Korean Church of Brooklyn.

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[4] Public School No. 95, Gravesend, N.Y., ca. 1907-11 {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

[4] Gravesend’s first school opened in 1728 near the southeast corner of McDonald Avenue and Gravesend Neck Road. In 1838 it moved to the east side of Van Sicklen Street, north of Gravesend Neck Road, and has remained there, in changing buildings, ever since, eventually coming to be called P.S. 95. The 1888 schoolhouse seen here stood opposite Lama Court, just beside the modern (1915) brick structure of P.S. 95 (at 345 Van Sicklen Street). It survived until a 1939 addition to the newer building forced its demolition.

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[5] Van Sicklen St., looking North [from Avenue T], Gravesend, N.Y., ca. 1907-11 {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

[5] An item in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of July 30, 1899 described two newly-completed houses on Van Sicklen Street, near Avenue T, “costing $1,700 each and standing on plots 55 x 111 feet.” They were very likely nos. 194 and 190 Van Sicklen Street, seen at the left in this view looking north towards Avenue S from Avenue T. They were constructed by the carpenter Peter Wyckoff Johnson (1833-1900), who, incidentally, was the father of Frederick Van Kleek Johnson, publisher of these postcards. No. 190 Van Sicklen (second from left) was recently demolished and replaced by a monstrous McMansion. (I’m sorry if it is your monstrous McMansion, but it has no place on this historic street!)

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[6] Sts. Simon and Judes [sic] R. C. Church, Gravesend, N.Y., ca. 1907-11 {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

[6] The first mass of the Roman Catholic parish of Ss. Simon and Jude was celebrated in a barbershop at 321 Avenue T on Christmas Day, 1897. In 1898 the cornerstone for a permanent church was laid at the northeast corner of Van Sicklen Street and Avenue T. That sanctuary was consecrated in 1899. The current church went up in 1966 on the site of the adjacent rectory (northwest corner of Avenue T and Lake Street), and the old building was demolished for a parking lot after the new one was dedicated in 1967.


Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

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Filed under Avenue T, buildings, churches, Gravesend Neck Road, Gravesend Reformed Dutch Church, postal history, Ryder family, schools, streets, Village Road North

Hallelujah!

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The Lady Moody – Van Sicklen House, 27 Gravesend Neck Road, Brooklyn, New York.

It took them half a century (plus two months), but today — at 10:19 a.m., to be precise! — the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) finally designated the Lady Moody – Van Sicklen House an official landmark. That means it cannot be altered or demolished without the permission of the LPC (click here for more about designation). That permission is granted only rarely, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

This great news has me feeling elated and exhausted and a million other things at once. I send my deepest gratitude to everyone who wrote to the LPC, or spoke at the hearing last fall, or just kept their fingers crossed and sent good thoughts for this magical outcome. I can’t imagine a Gravesend without this house. And now, thankfully, I don’t have to!

I’ll share the LPC’s detailed designation report as soon as it’s published.


Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

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Your time has come, Lady Moody!

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The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House, 27 Gravesend Neck Road. {Photo by Joseph Ditta, Saturday 26 March 2016}

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, fifty years plus two months after it was calendared by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House at 27 Gravesend Neck Road, may finally get the recognition it deserves. The Commission will spend just ten minutes listening to the findings of its research staff, and then vote for designation. (Notice that I didn’t write “for or against.” I don’t want to jinx it!) If you’re free and would like to attend the meeting, here’s the detailed schedule; the Moody House is set for 10:20-10:30, but these things are never set in stone. How will I manage to sleep between now and Tuesday?


Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

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The more things change . . .

. . . the more they stay the same!

Your webmaster had routine blood tests recently. The idea of being tourniqueted (is that a word?) and pricked became almost pleasurable when he realized that the medical lab was located on the same block as this firehouse at 1635 East 14th Street, between Kings Highway and Avenue P. You see, he had recently bought a lovely postcard showing the building — currently home to Engine 276, Ladder 156, and Battalion 33 — back when it was new in the bucolic early twentieth century (it went up sometime between 1907 and 1912). It’s been hemmed in by bulky brick boxes since then, but remains remarkably unchanged.


Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

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