09 May 2014

Corner of Cobble Hill History Destroyed

A unique, if unsung, corner of history in what used to be called South Brooklyn (now Cobble Hill) has been wantonly destroyed.

South Brooklyn used to be dotted not only with churches (its the "Borough of Churches," remember), but with numerous accompanying convents. Remnants of these institutions still exist, if you know where to look. (There's a former nun's residence on President Street between Clinton and Court, and another on the corner of Congress and Clinton.)

One of the more prominent former convents stands at the southeast corner of Kane and Henry, opposite P.S. 29. The buildings were part of a convent called the the Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor/Congregation of the Infant Jesus, an order which began in France. They devoted their time to caring for the sick, looking after their homes and giving them medicine. The nuns used to hold dances to raise money. According to my records, the buildings were built in 1906.

The Henry Street buildings were always easier to spot as a former convent because of a long, thick, stone wall that surrounded the property on two sides. The wall was built in 1913. There was a cross carved into the cast iron door, which was always locked. Like most local residents, I passed these walls nearly every day. In 2009, I became a little obsessed about its history and posted a few items about the wall. This led me to the history of the convent itself.

That wall always lent a distinctive character to that corner. Well, now, its gone. Forever. Some jackass developer has torn the 103-year-old structure down, so yet another multi-million dollar housing unit can be put up. A lovely bay window that used to be on the side of the building was also destroyed (see above). The building is actually much older than the wall.


Proud NIMBY said...

Nice to see "south Brooklyn" being used. The newbies now use that term to refer to Bensonhurst and Bath Beach and Sheepshead Bay, for example. WTF??

However, I must beg to differ with you. South Bklyn in those days referred to a wider neighborhood that just Cobble Hill. To us, South Brooklyn was basically anywhere west of 5th Ave.

A check of Wiki agrees with this, that it was a larger swath than just Cobble Hill. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Brooklyn

There is also a link there to the SBB.

I believe the guys who tagged SBB near Grand Army Plaza were Park Slope kids. In those halcyon days, the distance between neighborhoods was infinite, and it is unlikely someone from Cobble Hill would bother to come up to Park Slope to tag.


Carol Gardens said...

I really miss that wall, too! By the way, the Sister's still exist. Coincidentally they relocated to my home town of Rockville Centre on Long Island.

Exiled to Sunnyside said...

"Jackass developer" is an understatement. What a depressing thing to see.