08 May 2009

217 Court Street Has a History of Falling Down!

In light of the coming destruction of 217 Court Street, I decided to do a little research and see if there was any interesting history to the building.

And indeed there is—of falling down!

This address is constantly collapsing. Back in February 1936, when it was the Carpenter's Hall, headquarters for several unions (and the site of many a back-room politcal deal), the front of the building fell off, injuring five workmen who were renovating the first floor. One man was struck in the face by bricks and taken to Long Island College Hospital. Digging through the rubble, a fireman was overcome by gas from a leaking main and also taken to LICH.

The building dated from 1891 and had been called Central Hall at one point. It was owned by George Mulholland, an official with the Carpenter's Union.

Also: Men fall down here. In 1903, two men, Charles E. Rogers and Barney Peterson got into a gunfight outside Frederick Humberg's saloon at 217 Court. Rogers was exiting with friends and Peterson, accompanied by a gang, hit him in the head with a bottle by way of saying "Hello." Rogers responded by drawing a gun and firing, nailing Peterson in the chest. Det. John J. O'Donnell heard the shots and ran from nearby Butler Street Station. Rogers was arrested. Peterson was taken (guess where) to LICH.

Both man refused to shed any light on the wellspring of the altercation. (Of course! There were no rats in South Brooklyn back then.)

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