Culture on the Cheap
Reader Question: This Old House
Erin of Norman Avenue writes:
Hi Miss Heather,
I suspect you’ve already researched this – but what’s the story with the spectacular, run-down “estate” at the very end of Guernsey Street? It looks like it used to be an asylum or an old folks home, but now it appears to be inhabited by squatters and the grounds are overgrown.
I have been long remiss writing posts about Greenpoint history and I really appreciate Erin of Norman Avenue‘s kindly kicking my butt.
This beautiful (if slightly decrepit) building was the bequest of Samuel J. Tilden. If the name Sam Tilden sounds familiar to you, it’s because he was the 25th governor of New York and ran for president as a Democrat against Rutherford B. Hayes. He lost under very fishy circumstances. And for the record, Florida was a factor. Sound familiar?
In any case at Tilden’s death he had $6,000,000 of assets. His relatives contested the will and got a nice chunk of his estate. Somehow this parcel, by virtue of its less than desirable location (or sheer luck) didn’t find its way into their hands. Per his wishes a home for the aged was built here. It is now SRO. Here’s a little nugget of goodness about this great old building from the August 20, 1886 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Enjoy!
When the people rise the system gets cleansed.
— Samuel J. Tilden
P.S.: I know for a fact a woman on Green Street will be one summer short of a century this month!
And no, it ain’t me!
UPDATE: Check out this way cool message I got from the proprietress of SamuelTilden.com!
I have a google alert on Samuel Tilden and your delightful BLOG came up this morning…This was one property I did not know about and was happy to read that Samuel donated the old house and that it still exists.