Noble Street is one of the shorter streets in Greenpoint, but though just two blocks long it still is one of the prettiest streets in our area. The folks on Noble Street have to my knowledge (please correct me if I am wrong) the only block association in the area and the association is fighting to keep Noble Street just as pretty as it has always been.
The people on the block have come together to win some important victories in the battle to keep the street the perfect block to raise a family. Noble Street dates back to 1852 when it was opened off Franklin. It was named for James Noble, an early land owner in Williamsburg who owned an important coal yard.
Seventy years ago the street was famous not for its gorgeous houses, but for the Noble Street pier, where a fire boat sat ready to extinguish the flames of the many fires that often broke out in industrial Greenpoint. In the days before Pete McGuinness got the neighborhood the McCarren park pool, the dock was a place where kids swam to escape the summer heat. Sadly, many kids also drowned in the swift currents of the East River.
Noble Street has been the home to three houses of worship. At the top of the street is the Union Baptist Church where Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and unsuccessful presidential candidate, Charles Evans Hughes taught Sunday school a hundred and twenty years ago. Today the graceful old church is in a struggle to survive. Next to it used to be a gorgeous Presbyterian Church, but it was consumed by flames in the 1920’s and was replaced by an apartment house. Pastor Kansfield told me Mark Twain once spoke at the church.
At the bottom of the street is a gorgeous, tiny synagogue, Congregation Ahavas Israel. The Shul, founded in 1886, is according to some the oldest synagogue still operating in Brooklyn. For many years, one of the great characters in Greenpoint was Rabbi Zipper who had an amazing singing voice and a great sense of humor.
An elegant Venetian style former Polish organization graces the top of the street. It is being turned into condos and will be an amazing place to live. The largest family on the block for many years was the Sheehans. There were something like thirty-seven Sheehan brothers and sisters, and there are reportedly more Sheehans in Greenpoint than soldiers in the Irish army! Seriously, the Sheehans are one of the great Irish families in Greenpoint and Gina Sheehan was honored in the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day parade. Patrick Sheehan, known as quiet Pat Sheehan, is a noted musician who helped compose a song about Greenpoint. Neil Sheehan is very active in helping Greenpoint’s senior citizens.
At the end of the street remain the buildings that once housed the American manufacturing Company, once the fourth largest employer in Brooklyn and the largest maker of shoe laces in the world. They are now serving as the Expo Center.
There are too many beautiful houses on the street to cover all their histories. The oldest house # 114 dates back to 1852, the year the street was opened. #101 and 103 also date to the opening of the street. Two of the most beautiful wood frame houses in the area are #107 and 109, which date from the late 1850’s. Many of the most beautiful homes on the street are built in the Italianate style with brick and most of the block was built between 1870 and 1880.
Noble Street was once the home to local goldsmiths and #91, 93 and 95 were built by goldsmiths.
I cannot finish without giving a shout out to Turlough McConnell, the Irish playwright who has lived on the block for decades. You are hard pressed to find a prettier street in Greenpoint so take a stroll on gorgeous Noble Street soon.