11 April 2011


This is the seventh post of "The Union Street Project," in which I unearth the history of every building along the once bustling Brooklyn commercial strips of Union Street between Hicks and Van Brunt, and Columbia Street between Sackett and Carroll.
Union Street between Hicks and Columbia has always been a commercial strip, lined with stores. A map I have from 1927 indicates that nearly every building on the block contained a shop; you can still see this was the case today; even though some edifices don't contain businesses today, the architecture obviously shows that they once did.

149 Union, on the north side of the street, is a rare exception. As far as I can tell, it was always a residence. I believe it is one of the oldest buildings on the block, dating from the 1850s or before, and is a brother to 147 Union Street, seen here the left. It's in better shape than 147, but its height, Federal-style doorway and unusual wooden cornice betray its age.

As a residence, the history of 149 Union is more difficult to track than other buildings on the block. Businesses get press from time to time. Everyday apartment dwellers tend to remain anonymous. However, I did glean a few tidbits of information about the residents of this three-story, brick home. In 1869, is was the address of P.K. Horgan, who wrote a letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, questioning the results of a recent election. In 1893, Cornelius Conners, 19, who lived here, was sent to the penitentiary for public intoxication.

Now, a word about these investigations. I have two old maps in my possession. One is from 1927 and the other is from 1855. The latter one created some confusion when I found it, because the numbers of the buildings are different than they are on the 1927 map. For instance, 149 Union Street seems to have been, in 1855, 114 Union. This is the case up and down the block. At some point, the addresses of the buildings were changed. I'm pretty sure the change happened in the 19th century, because most news accounts of certain buildings from the last 120 years, using their current addresses, ring true with what I see before my eyes, and what I know of the local past around the area.

Still, what am I to think of the news, reported in the Eagle, that in 1858 John Blakemore was a physician with an office at 114 Union? That's only three years after the 1855 map was printed. So did he live in what is now 149 Union? Or was his building torn down and replaced by the current structure? I do not know. And nobody I've consulted does either.


Becky said...

Over at the Carroll Gardens Patch today they mention that the renumbering happened sometime between 1863 and the 1870s.

The photo in their post gives the earlier date. I'm not sure how they narrowed it down to the 1870s though. Maybe you could ask them.

mingusal said...

According to this post on the Brooklyn Historical Society's blog Brooklyn Heights addresses were changed in 1870, so perhaps it happened then.