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.
The house has a fascinating history and it is connected to an equally fascinating man who had the presidency of the United States stolen from him in 1876: Samuel Tilden. Tilden is probably one of the people who gets the least credit for making Greenpoint great. Tilden was an absolutely brilliant corporate lawyer who knew a good investment when he saw one. He bought a huge piece of land before the Civil War in Greenpoint that covered an area from Calyer Street to Milton and east to Leonard Street including the land that St. Anthony’s church now sits on. Tilden did a lot for our state. He broke the corrupt Boss Tweed ring and helped write our state Constitution. In 1876 he really should have been elected president, but lost when his party, the Democrats, cut a dirty back room deal that ended reconstruction and sold him out.Continue reading →
You certainly know his buildings, but probably do not know his name. Theobald Engelhardt played a huge role in shaping our local architectural heritage. His buildings are local landmarks and some of our most gorgeous buildings are his handiwork, yet few people today realize his important local legacy.
Timing can mean the difference between success and failure, and Engelhardt began his career just as a local building boom was hitting Greeenpoint. Born in Williamsburg in 1851, Engelhardt—a German-American—came of age just as German influence in this area was at its peak. Engelhardt became one of Brooklyn’s most prolific architects, designing hundreds of structures that include a range of buildings from factories and churches to stores and homes. Continue reading →