27 May 2008

Leaves and Letters

I've passed by the set-back, four-story, red-brick building at 238 President Street in Carroll Gardens many times and admired it as a fine, understated piece of architecture and a nice variation from the usual brownstones in the area. But only recently did I realize that the black, cast-iron, filigreed gate that stands as the property's entrance is festooned with equally black, cast iron letters. They're hard to see. Many have fallen off over the years. And the coming of spring, causing the entwined vines on the gate to sprout leave, make it even more difficult to discern what words the letters formed.

I must have stood there looking at the gate for ten minutes. But I finally figured out it once said "Faculty Home of the Methodist Episcopal Church."

The Simpson Methodist Episcopal Church, to be exact, on the corner of Willoughby and Clermont Avenue. This structure—quite a distance from the church—was erected in 1897, the gift of one Mrs. Hans Christian as a memorial to her dead husband. It was also called the Deaconess Home. Tragedy struck on Sept. 7, 1916, when its 18-year-old kindergarten teacher, Dorothy Langhaar, daughter of a Wall Street broker, was drowned.

Don't know when the church gave up the building.

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