Every since I discovered that the Eileen Dugan Senior Center at 380 Court Street, on the west side of Carroll Park in Brooklyn, used to be a Norwegian Salvation Army—or "Frelsesarmeen," as is carved at the top of the facade—I've been intrigued by the hulking, cream-colored building. I knew that no aspect of the interior any longer betrayed the original function of the structure. But I had read that, in the basement of the Senior Center, which was founded in 1974, there was a full-fledged boccie court, there to amuse the center's many old Italian-American residents. Was it still there?
Recently, I worked up the courage to go in and investigate. A staff member told me that, yes, the court was still there, but—alas!—it was about to be torn down. By some chance, the director was on hand. I asked if I might see the court before it was removed. An amiable man, he agreed.
In articles printed in 1974, it was described as 30 by 8 feet and covered with pale yellow clay. A layer of green felt has been applied to the clay since then. The manager said the court wasn't used anymore because there weren't any more old Italians to play Boccie Ball. They all died off. He hopes to use the space in a way that's more appealing to greater numbers. I understand. But it's a shame. I'll wager that this may be the only senior center in the country to be so equipped.