NY Daily News on the Neighbors of Brooklyn Heights’ Mysterious Secret Brownstone

The New York Daily News profiles the folks who live next door to 58 Joralemon Street aka the world’s only Greek Revival subway vent.:

NYD: “It’s a fan system, in case there was ever a fire” in the subway tunnel, said Judy Scofield Miller, 57, who has lived next to the oddity at number 58 with her husband David and their two teen kids.

“I’ve never been afraid living next to it.”

In fact, the MTA house has been a perk for the Millers, who have lived in their house since 1991.

They lease 58 Joralemon’s backyard “way way way below market value” from the MTA and have turned it into a leafy paradise.

“It’s a shade garden,” said Miller pointing to the Trumpet Vine and Wisteria plants that cover the shaft house’s four-story back wall right by the 60-foot pin oak tree.

Share this Story:

, , ,

  • Jorale-man

    Interesting piece but one thing it didn’t clear up for me is the origins of the house. Was it once a working brownstone that they later gutted to make a ventilation shaft? Or was it built as a faux house for this purpose?

    Every time I walk by I look to see if there are any clues towards its age and it definitely looks like it could be a 19th century house. But who knows? It sounds like the MTA is keeping it close to the vest for whatever reason.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13189502@N02/ Eddyenergizer

    Yes it was a real brownstone, converted to the vent when the IRT tunnels were dug, sometime in the early 1900’s.

    When I was a teenager, a friend and I walked through the tunnel from the Borough Hall station to the emergency exit, climbed the stairs and emerged out of that building… I remember it was extremely dirty in there.

  • Jorale-man

    @Eddy – that’s awesome! They should open it up someday for the public – just enough so people can see what it looks like inside.

  • Gerry

    @ Eddy – I love your memories of Brooklyn Heights so many years ago.

  • Ashley

    While walking with my class of 2nd graders past this “house” on a field trip, we told them about the secret. They were fascinated! So fun to see an city legend passed on to inquisitive youth. :)

  • Heightsguy

    Eddy, so jealous of your walk from the subway to Joralemon St. Can you tell where in the station is the secret passageway. My 14 year old inner child is kicking up.

  • Hicks on hicks

    I hope that when the backyard lease is up for renewal, MTA negotiates a market rate.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13189502@N02/ Eddyenergizer

    Heightsguy, there is no “secret passageway” It’s the subway tunnel. If you take the 4-5 to Manhattan and look out the front window, you can see the “Exit” a few hundred yards in.

  • mlo

    I remember going in there a few times many years ago when I was a teenager. One time they were doing work it was left unlocked and a few times we played with the lock- anyway we got in. There’s a metal ladder to climb down to the subway tunnel. I wasn’t a graffiti artist by any means but I did leave my mark on a few spots.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13189502@N02/ Eddyenergizer

    Hicks on hicks, What would be “market rate” on a piece of land that can only be accessible from the adjacent property?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13189502@N02/ Eddyenergizer

    I get $0.93