06 February 2009


For years, I have look up at the top of the Eileen Dugan Senior Center at 380 Court Street, on the west side of Carroll Park in Brooklyn, and read the name "Frelsesarmeen," carved at the top of the building in huge, stark letters. And I thought, "Wha?" I know the people who funded buildings in the past often made a stab at immortality by putting their name on the cornice. But what kind of name was that? Was there really a Mr. Frelsesarmeen?

Well, no there wasn't. Frelsesarmeen, it turns out, is the Norwegian name for Salvation Army, and that's what this building was back in the day. I've written before about the heavy Norwegian population that used to dwell in South Brooklyn, but I thought all traces of it had long since been erased.

I've peeked inside. There don't seem to be many traces of the building's old life. The Senior Center was founded in 1974 and was equipped, at the time, with a full-fledged boccie court in the basement, 30 by 8 feet and covered with pale yellow clay. I think it must still be there, because boccie is listed among the center's regular activities.

Does anyone know anything about the Norwegian roots of this building?

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