11 November 2009

Yet Another Breakthrough in Brooks 1890 Restaurant?

Writing in in response to my recent breakthrough in the ongoing historical mystery of Long Island City's Brooks 1890 Restaurant, Ian Schoenherr delivers a hell of a piece of information. Read:

This building seems to answer to descriptions of Long Island City's old City Hall building. The New York Times for May 30, 1902, states: "The old City Hall is a four-story double brick building, covering two full lots, at the corner of Jackson and Anable Avenues. It was vacated about a year after consolidation." Anable Avenue is now the part of Court Square that borders one side of Brooks 1890 Restaurant. And the Times for May 25, 1910, says:


Martin Heilbut and Herman Kleefeld of Long Island City have secured a lease of the old Long Island City municipal building, at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Anable Street, adjoining Court House Square.

"The building is historic as the old City Hall of Long Island City, and it was the theatre of action of the late Patrick Jerome Gleason and the other officials of the old Long Island City just prior to consolidation. The property belongs to Dr. James T. Trask [sic: probably Dr. James D. Trask].

"Under the lease, which is for a term of twenty-one years, the Long Island City men get possession not only of this building but of a lot adjoining the same on Jackson Avenue and and another fronting on Court House Square. These lots will be improved by the lessees."

The building also appears to have been known now and then as "Temple Court" and its address is variously listed as 250-52 Jackson, 250-252 Jackson, and 252 Jackson. It was also the sometime home or meeting place of the Queens County Bar Association, the Topographical Bureau of the Borough of Queens, the George A. Just Company, the Village Athletic Club, the Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company, the Queens Boro Board of Trade, the Bureau of Street Openings, etc.

The Queens County Plumbers Union met at "Kleefeld's Hall" at 252 Jackson (c.1925) and the Times mentions an incident at "Kleefeld's Saloon" (December 22, 1914). Perhaps the "K" was for Herman Kleefeld, co-lessee of the property? Then again, the Times article of May 30, 1902, mentions that James Kennedy, "a well known sporting man," was also connected with the place. And "N" is still MIA...

Holy shit! I'll let you know as I find out more about Long Island City's most mysterious old building.

Moreover, I found this shot of the building when it used to be the Court Square Restaurant.

1 comment:

Ian Schoenherr said...

I found a good, long article on the building when it was sold to Heilbut and Kleefeld and quote a large portion of it below. And while I've seen several mentions of it from the 1910s as "Kleefeld's Hotel" I also found some references to "Heilbut & Kleefeld":

[Regarding the ball of the Owl Bowling Club, of Winfield, held at Court Square Hall, Long Island City] "...About 1 o'clock fifty couples sat down to a course dinner prepared by Heilbut & Kleefeld, the well-known Long Island City caterers...." (The Newtown Register, February 24, 1914)

"...The Long Island City Business Men's Association will be held at Heilbut & Kleefeld's, corner of Jackson avenue and Court Square, Long Island City..." (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 11, 1915)

"Heilbut & Kleefeld" also show up as certificate holders in the Annual Report of the State Commissioner of Excise of the State of New York (1912 and 1914).

All of which makes me wonder - I haven't seen the stained glass with the initials "N" and "K" at Brooks', but is it possible that the "N" is actually an "H"?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 24, 1910 (page 12)


...There is no building in Long Island City, not even the Court House, which has had so eventful a history as the old City Hall, which now passes into new hands. In the latter part of the 80s it was occupied by Alexander Moran, as a hotel. He was prominent in Long Island City politics, and served as a city clerk. The police court and the Common Council rooms were in the building with the hotel. Sessions of the courts and the Council meetings were held there until an act was passed prohibiting police courts from being held in the same building with hotels. Then Moran moved out.

After his removal all the boards of Long Island City and the mayor's office were moved into the building. The ground floor was taken by the city treasurer.

Among the police justices who sat in this building were Stephen J. Kavanaugh, Daniel Noble and Lucius N. Manley.

It was in this building that Patrick Jerome Gleason held the dual position of mayor and alderman, and defied any one to prevent him. Here, also, he barricaded himself after the election of Mayor Sanford, and held the fort for twenty-one days until he was thrown out by members of the police force. It was also from a window in this building that Gleason, after his election in 1896, made a speech that caused him to be sued for libel by former Police Captain Woods, in which the captain was successful, and he got a judgment which Gleason refused to pay, and upon which Woods succeeded in having a body execution issued against Gleason that confined him for a year to the jail limits of Queens County.

At many of the meetings of the old Common Council and the Board of Education there were such lively discussions that fights occurred, in several of which prominent citizens received serious physical injuries.