01 March 2007

Jennie Jerome, Go Home!

Some serious historical misinformation is being promulgated in Cobble Hill.

On the four-story, red-brick house at 426 Henry Street near Kane Street, there is a worn metal plaque that states the address was the birthplace of Jennie Jerome, the mother of Winston Churchill. Great. Good to know. Only one problem: Jerome wasn't born there.

Where she WAS born is the building at 197 Amity Street (below), a few blocks north and a couple to the east. There is no plaque there, no historical marker at all. The Henry Street plaque has been there for 55 years; it was erected in March 1952. It has no official sanction, but is evidently the product of some civic-minded citizens, still full of post-WWII gratitude for the good deeds of Sir Winston.

It's hard to know why, after a half a century, the marker is still there—and kitty-corner from a school full of impressionable kids—unless it's attached by Crazy Glue and they can't get it off. The mistake has been mentioned by many New York books and guides and it's doubtfull that the owners of the building haven't been told about it at least 12 dozen times. Perhaps they have rationalized that it's not TOTALLY wrong: Jennie's parents did live there before she was born.

Daddy, by the way, was Leonard Jerome, for whom Jerome Avenue in the Bronx was named. That throughfare led straight to Lenny's Jerome Park Racetrack. He kept his family, however, two boroughs away from that nastiness.

1 comment:

Ookla the Mok said...

Always enjoy your blog. On this one, if you watched Chasing Churchill where his grand daughter traces his steps, she spoke to the family living in the actual birthplace. The explanation was that the actual home wasn't attractive -- lot of art deco, pre-60s stuff -- so they decided to use a substitute rather than show the great man his mother's humble birthplace. It's disappointing, and I'd have to imagine Churchill might even have picked up on it. He visited New York City and Brooklyn, then two cities, first in 1895 and walked the Brooklyn Bridge -- as he always climbed the tallest buidlng in any city.