Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ones and Twos: The State of Joralemon East

Part 2 of 2 on the intermediate streets between Joralemon and State Streets in Brooklyn Heights

In the latter half of the 18th century, the mansion of Philip Livingston (again, a signer of the Declaration of Independence) stood between Joralemon and State Streets, facing Hicks. To the east of the mansion grew Livingston's gardens. During the Revolutionary War, the estate hosted General Washington and his troops, and--as the Garden Place Association so eloquently put it on this enjoyable "Chart to Find Your Way About" in 1933--"Here was held the Council of War at the time of the Battle of Long Island." Following Washington's retreat to Manhattan, the British Navy fashioned a hospital out of Livingston's mansion, continuing to tend his gardens. At the turn of the 19th century, a judge named Teunis Joralemon purchased the estate. In 1842, shortly after his death, the property was subdivided, leading to the creation of Garden Place.

(underlay via Google Maps)

The London Plane trees seen in the photos below were planted by the Garden Place Association in the 30s (they're also enthusiastically sketched on the aforementioned chart).

(L-R): Garden Place looking south, Termination of Garden Place at south end, Garden Place looking north
In the middle of the block we uncover an interesting bit of building archaeology. According to the plaque on the two-story brick building below (upper right), the structure was built in 1846 as a carriage house and stable to serve No. 13 Garden Place (below left). Seventy years later, it was converted to a garage with a dwelling on the second floor. In 1919 (from what I can surmise), a two-story, three-family English Tudor style building bridged the gap between No. 13 and its carriage house. I'd like to imagine there's a secret underground tunnel that still runs between the two.

Clockwise from left: 13 Garden Place, its original carriage house, and the intervening development

Details of Garden Place
Shuffling over down State Street, past Henry, we find ourselves at Sidney Place, the easternmost of the four connector streets between State and Joralemon. In Brooklyn by Name, the namesake of the street is said to be Sir Philip Sidney, a 16th Century English nobleman who--at the age of 32--was slain while fighting the Spanish in the Netherlands (shot to death off of his horse). From the same book, I learned that Sidney Place was initially called Monroe Place, which is now located farther north in Brooklyn Heights.

R-L: Sidney Place looking north, looking south

Two-thirds of the distance between State and Joralemon, Aitken Place--an extension of Livingston renamed for a 19th Century priest--terminates at Sidney Place (see picture on the left below). On the north side of Aitken Place stands the Catholic Church of St. Charles Borromeo, anchoring the north end of the block. Originally built in 1842 as an Episcopal Church, the property was sold to the Catholics in 1849, and the Episcopalians moved into Grace Church shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, the original church was destroyed in a fire, and the current Gothic Revival church was designed in 1868 by the prolific and ballyhooed Irish-American architect Patrick C. Keely. The interior of St. Charles Borromeo boasts the "largest and last extant Odell tracker organ in New York City," in continuous use for the last 132 years. To the uninitiated (including me), "tracker" refers to the type of organ which utilizes a mechanical connection to link the keys and pedals to the pipe valves, as opposed to an electric or electro-pneumatic connection.  One more fun fact: the first priest here, Rev. Charles C. Pise, was also an educator and the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, carrying on the mission of the patron saint.

St. Charles Borromeo

Across Aitken Place to the south is the site of the former parochial school tied to St. Charles Borromeo.  Today, it is being converted into the new home of the Mary McDowell Friends School Upper School, a Quaker School established for students with learning disabilities (below left). Of further note is the recently restored wood frame house at the north end of the block, across Joralemon, which dates from 1833 (below, upper left).

Clockwise from upper left: 1830s wood frame house, carriage house, Mary McDowell Friends School, Sidney Place gardens

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