Category Archives: Lady Moody House

Blue Christmas

You might say I’m a sucker for a cyanotype. If you don’t know that word, it’s pronounced “sigh-AN-o-type,” with the accent on the “AN.” Cyan is really just a fancy name for greenish-blue. A cyanotype is a photograph printed using the same process for blueprints, those white-line architectural drawings on blue paper. But I don’t really care about the science involved. I just love them because cyanotype photographs are hauntingly beautiful. Sad, even. Or maybe that’s just me giving too much weight to their melancholy blueness. Take a look at these Gravesend beauties and you decide. The first three were taken by the artist Charles William Bauhan (1861-1938), or, possibly, his wife, Agda (also an artist), who lived in Gravesend, briefly, during the summer of 1893.

Blue_Christmas_Wiltse_1893_watermarked

“Summer 1893 at Gravesend L.I.” The Bauhans rented rooms in this Dutch farmhouse from Homer Wiltse (that’s him, leaning on the gate). It stood on the north side of Gravesend Neck Road just east of P.S. 95, and was demolished around 1930 when the schoolyard was expanded.

Blue_Christmas_Hicks_1893_watermarked

“1893 | View looking east from window of above house. This house is said to be between 200 & 300 years old.” This is the so-called “Lady Moody House” at 27 Gravesend Neck Road. When the Bauhans lived next door, the Moody House was not quite 200 hundred years old; today it is in the ballpark of 300 and finally an official New York City landmark. The tower just beyond belonged to the Gravesend Reformed Dutch Church on McDonald Avenue, dedicated in 1834 and demolished late in 1893, not long after this photograph was taken.

Blue_Christmas_Coney_Island_Creek_1893_watermarked

“Coney I. Creek. | Gravesend | 1893.” That is probably Charles William Bauhan sailing on Coney Island Creek. He painted a small watercolor of the rear of the Coney Island Elephant (see the building below) from that vantage point on June 18, 1893, so perhaps this cyanotype was snapped the same day, possibly by his wife, Agda.

Blue_Christmas_Elephantine_Colossus_watermarked

“West End at Coney Island.” This, my favorite cyanotype of all, shows Elephantine Colossus on Coney Island, near the intersection of Surf Avenue and West 12th Street. The Shaw Channel Chute went up around the Elephant in 1889, and both burned to the ground on September 27, 1896. This image probably captures the forlorn structures in their final years.

May your holidays be warm and bright! –Joseph


Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Ditta (webmaster@gravesendgazette.com)

[I am sorry for the obnoxious watermarks, but these are unique images, and I’d rather not have them copied without attribution.]

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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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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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One Step Closer to Landmark Status!

Neck.Road.27.west_1893.Bauhan_watermarked

This cyanotype, taken in June 1893, is possibly the oldest known photograph of the Moody House at 27 Gravesend Neck Road. The view is looking east toward present-day McDonald Avenue. Note the tower of the soon-to-be-demolished Gravesend Reformed Dutch Church in the background. {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

Excellent news! The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public meeting today to deal with its backlog of 95 properties; some buildings — like Gravesend’s Lady Moody – Van Sicklen House — have languished there for fifty years. The Commission decided to keep the Moody House on its calendar and prioritize it for designation by the end of 2016. So, the house is not yet an official landmark, but it has moved one giant step closer to that reality. If, instead, the Commission had voted to drop the house from its calendar, well . . . I shudder to finish that sentence! To think about it another way, of the 95 properties under consideration, only 30 are being pushed forward for designation. We made it! (Click here for a full list of the day’s decisions)

I send heartfelt thanks to everyone who took time to write the Commission (at the meeting they said the Moody House generated quite a lot of interest from the Gravesend community!), and to those who spoke at the hearing last October, especially Mark Treyger, our tireless councilman, whose continued support for designation of this unique building speaks louder than all of our pleas combined.

Stay tuned . . .


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

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