06 April 2009

Convent of the Holy Debris

Last week, a wrote sometime about an ancient wall that lines the corner of Kane and Henry Streets in Cobble Hill. A reader did some detective work and informed me that it once surrounded a convent called the the Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor/Congregation of the Infant Jesus, an order which began in France.

This made me even more curious about the crumbling, vine-covered wall, which was built in 1913—as did a comment that said now the wall sadly now hides a car park. So, the next time I passed, I scaled the wrought-iron fence that surrounds the stone wall and had a peek inside. No car park; that lot is further to the east. Just a backyard choked with tons of garbage, junk and debris. Flower pots, tarp, construction cones, cinder block, kids' toys, garbage cans, crates. A real Hillbilly's yard. All that was missing was the rusted-out hull of a car. Such a shame.

I did, however, also discover something encouraging. It seems that not all of the convent is gone. Take a look at that window over the back door. Nothing but a religious structure would incorporate a window that shape. That is clearly a remnant of the convent. I wonder what the building looks like inside.


Prowler said...

Fast check just shows that 439 Henry became a multi-unit in 1979, and applied for a parking lot in 1991 (and got cited in '92 for lack of C of O. The lot's alternate address is 2 Strong Place.)
Its owner/manager is/are listed as Hen-Kane Realty and a "Hannibal Zumbo," who seems to be an inactive (very elderly? retired?) architect.
Which is interesting, maybe, but sure doesn't explain all that junk in the yard, or why no one has griped about it.

Therese Cox said...

But how great is the name "Hannibal Zumbo"?

Sorry to send you wild goose chasing. (Although it looks like you did some great detective work in the process.) I was indeed thinking of the parking lot adjacent the wall.

Prowler said...

Therese Cox said: "But how great is the name 'Hannibal Zumbo'?"

Great indeed!
But either the current Hannibal is Hannibal #1's son, or the title hasn't been updated, or the Orginal Hannibal is quite elderly -- since he's an inactive/emeritus architect who graduated from Columbia in 1934. (And 439 Henry was among his several business addresses - another on Henry, one on Court.)

I'm still mystified re: why tenants don't complain about the junkyard. But maybe the rent/location are right ...