If I had to pick one house in Greenpoint to set a horror movie in it would be the big old house set back off the street at the corner of Oak and Guernsey. The red brick facade, spooky wooden double doors, cast iron railings at the building’s entrance, as well as the iron fence and gate at lawn’s edge all are original, dating to the house’s construction in 1887.
Tilden was an extremely charitable man. He made millions and donated a lot of the money he made. He gave a huge gift that helped start our library system. His elegant home on Gramercy Park became the National Arts Club and he sold land at under market value to allow St. Anthony of Padua to build its church on Manhattan Avenue.
He made a lot of money selling off his land in Greenpoint and felt that he had to give back to the community. In the late eighteen eighties he hired the great German-American architect Theobald Engelhart to build a home for local indigent women at 137 Oak Street. I am a huge Engelhart fan because he built a lot of great other local buildings including the beautiful beaux arts bank on the corner of Franklin and Greenpoint and the beautiful Lutheran Church on Milton.
Today it’s a single occupancy residence building and the old women are long gone, but the house has changed little from the days when it was a haven for poor elderly women.