Take A Look At Me (Then &) Now: 156 Henry Street, From Bohack To CVS

The sweet red brick building at 156 Henry Street at the intersection of Love Lane in Brooklyn Heights holds a modicum of mystery. Despite hours of research, I could find little info on when it was built or why it stands alone as a quaint two-story structure among so many multi-story apartment buildings on all sides.

What I do know is that throughout its life, the street level has housed at least three businesses: two supermarkets and now, a CVS. First was Bohack, which opened its first family grocery on nearby Fulton Street in Brooklyn in 1887. After going public, the chain expanded into Manhattan and the Bronx until its demise during the recession of the mid-1970s. The last store shuttered in summer 1977.

Next in the location was well-known New York supermarket chain D’Agostino, first opened in 1932 during the Great Depression on the Upper East Side. By 1981, the grocer operated 15 Manhattan locations and one in Brooklyn—at 156 Henry Street. The store was obviously in place long enough to update its logo signage, as seen below.

Within the past decade, D’Agostino departed Brooklyn, making way for CVS to mark its territory in the Heights, competing with drugstore neighbors Duane Reade and Rite Aid.

Above the store, there’s a one-bedroom rental apartment, last listed by Corcoran (date unknown), described as: “Sunny, quiet, beautiful 1BR in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, steps from restaurants, shops, subways. Near Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Kitchen & bathroom totally renovated. Beautiful decorative fireplace & gorgeous wood floors. Pets welcome.” No price was listed on the site. Pics from the listing of the upstairs unit below…

Finally, a little perspective about Love Lane, across from 156 Henry… In pre-Colonial times, it was an Indian trail leading to the nearby East River. When the Dutch arrived in Brooklyn, it became a popular path for romantic walks, thus the name. An 1894 New York Times article hints, “The oldest residents remember a time when there was a cool, shady path leading down ‘Lover’s Lane,’ where plump, rosy-cheeked Dutch maidens, with their sweethearts, meandered on summer evenings out through the turnstile and down the grassy bank to the water’s edge.”

Today, the closest you’re going to that blush get is a flash of your CVS bar code, hoping for bountiful bargains… and a sentimental feeling standing in a space with such robust history in beloved Brooklyn Heights.

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  • Jorale-man

    Great piece, Chuck. It’s interesting to see the evolution of the building. I wonder when they restored its shutters and added storefront window panes? It looks like the Bohack photo on the top could have been taken in 1976, with the bicentennial flags on the windows.

  • budgeteer

    Those window flags don’t look like bicentennial flags, but like bunting for a holiday. Based on the baby carriage, the picture looks more like the 1940’s or 50’s.

  • Quinn Raymond


  • lois

    I remember shopping at the Bohack’s in the 1960s. There was an exit at the rear of the store also, near College Place. I was sorry to see the store close. I also shopped at the D’agostino’s – it was a bit more upscale than Key Food. Some people say that the opening of Garden of Eden drew customers away and led to its closing.

  • Flashlight Worthy

    I think what drove the D’agastinos to close was their sky-high prices. I remember marveling at how everything seemed to be priced a dollar more than the Key Food.

    Gristedes can get away with that because some North Heights residents might not want to walk any further… but at that location, with Key Food a block one way and Gristedes a block the other way I think they couldn’t get away with it. Why it took so long to fail I’ll never know.

  • SheilA

    We lived across the street at 155? Henry St.in the late 60’s.before moving to Monroe Pl. Remember the blackout? Even the bridge was out! We were on 9 th flr.skyline view pre high rent days. That stroller looks like the one my dad restored. Thanks for pic.mr.Taylor.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    Chuck, please post pictures of said “Rosy-cheeked Dutch maidens” :)

  • Neil

    Reply to budgeteer: That photo predates at least 1954, when I first visited Bohack. The font used in the store name had changed by then, to a more modern-looking style.

    Reply to lois: I remember that rear entrance as well. If I recall, it was a smaller, single-width door, right?

    Reply to Arch Stanton: I must have known one of the offspring of one of those “rosy-cheeked maidens”- -one of my more memorable trips to Bohack was in 1955 when I was being wheeled around the store in the flip-down kiddie seat of the shopping cart, and in one of the aisles, we ran into my classmate Ann-Marie and her mother. Ann- Marie was in the child seat as well, and for what seemed the longest time, our mothers stood there and chatted, while I felt terribly embarrassed that Ann-Marie should see ME similarly ensconced in such an undignified conveyance, at MY age!

    Anyway, if anyone ever fit the description of “rosy-cheeked Dutch maiden”, that would be Ann-Marie, and I was dismayed when she and her family returned to the Netherlands in late 1957., without her ever knowing I’d had such a crush on her. Oh, well, such is the price of discretion.

    Finally, reply to David on Middagh: I posted a follow-up to our exchange on 109 Montague.

    And apologies to all for the multiple replies in this post; absent a coherent reply protocol, I wanted to avoid multiple, unrelated responses.

  • Anna B

    I’ve often thought that this must be the prettiest CVS in the entire country.

  • bornhere

    According to information from the Brooklyn Collection of the (online) Brooklyn Public Library, the wonderful b&w picture is “date stamped May 26, 1943.” How neat.

    I think one of the reason D’Ag’s (gradually) failed is that they lost their excellent manager, Danny, who had run that store beautifully. They also tried to change the tone to be more Garden-of-Eden-ish, and it just never caught on. I loved D’Ag’s in the 1980s (especially because Key Food was really suffering through one of its most neglected periods then) and I wish it still were there.

    Neil — Was the first initial of Ann-Marie’s name a “G”?

  • Neil

    Reply to bornhere:

    Yep, the first initial of the LAST name was “G”.

    Do we have a “u”?

  • bornhere

    Alas, no, Neil. We have an “e.” How many “rosy-cheeked” Ann-Marie’s could there have been in one little hamlet….

    Nevertheless, I love your story of “humiliation and the shopping cart.” And to this day, I can still picture/hear the neat old cash registers and the deft, punch-up-the-numbers, slam-in-the-subtotal actions of the checkers.

  • Neil

    Actually, I wasn’t sure if it was a “u” or an “e”–for many years I remembered it as the former, but recently began to wonder if it was the latter.

    Are we talking front row, left?


  • bornhere

    Oh, Neil. I wondered if it was you. And she has two e’s, an l, and two m’s. And I hate that picture. And I wasn’t too wild about Miss Joyce, either. This is too funny. And coincidentally, a friend of mine is one of her best friends. This is amazing. Wait until my sister reads this….

  • Neil

    The mystery deepens..which Neil did you think it was? I’m not the one
    whose name appears in the text accompanying that photo, if that’s what you were wondering..

  • Nabeguy

    Neil/Bornhere, you should both join the FB group “Growing Up Brooklyn Heights” and add another generation to that site. http://www.facebook.com/groups/31319892025/

    Great story Neil.

  • http://www.theherculean.com larry burnett

    Henry Miller also lived here for a short time. See the 2011 book “LITERARY BROOKLYN.”

  • Nabeguy

    Bornhere/Neil, here’s another blast from the past…http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2011/05/past-and-presen-10/

  • Neil

    Reply to Nabeguy (1. March 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm 2. March 21, 2012 at 10:40 am):

    1. Thanks for both of your responses. I’m not a Facebook user, but now I’m tempted, but I want to think before I take the plunge and check out the “Growing Up (In?) Brooklyn Heights” group. Is there a way to view without joining Facebook?

    2. I’ve actually seen that page, and in fact posted a message under a different moniker (lien49).

    Another plea to the Webmaster: Have you noticed that Brownstoner allows user-specified ordering of posts? How I wish that was available here.

  • Sheila

    Mr.Taylor, where can I get copies of the pictures of the little girl and lady with stroller? Or how to go about it? Thanks!

  • bornhere

    Nabe — I LOVE the picture of Parker’s. It was part drugstore, part luncheonette, with the best greasy burgers. And in my mind, everything (except the counter seats) was painted some odd beige-tan color. And the phone booths were great.
    As for the “Growing Up” group, I won’t sign up for Facebook, so I guess I will miss out on some nifty reminiscences (unless, Nabe, you decide to do a weekly update here, as Step 7 of your “I-no-longer-live-there” detox program :).
    Neil — I seem to recall your brother posting here a year or two ago; and of course I know you’re not The Other Neil (his daughter and my son were in the same school before The Other moved to NC).

  • Nabeguy

    Neil/Bornhere, don;t know if you’ll be able to view this, but here goes…http://www.facebook.com/groups/31319892025/

  • Neil

    Reply to bornhere (March 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm):

    Okay, you know I’m not TON.

    And I did see my brother’s post.

    Now, Iet’s see if MY hunch is correct. In the picture to which I’ve linked, do you see anything familiar? Yes, I know it’s from before our time, but does anything stand out?


    Also, was your sister in the same class as my brother?


    And I think your suggestion re Nabeguy is a good one.

  • bornhere

    Neil: Yup on all :)

  • Neil

    Reply to bornhere (March 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm):


    I even remember your father’s 1949 or so Cadillac after being given a ride home from somewhere one night (some school event, I’d guess).

    By the way, I never minded Miss Joyce.

  • Neil

    Reply to Nabeguy (March 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm):

    Sorry, I missed your post at first.

    The link took me to a sign-in page, so I was unable to view anything.

    Never having used Facebook and not particularly inclined to do so (I would never hear the end of it from my wife, who has endured PLENTY from me about her own addiction), I have noted that some users make available certain pages for public viewing, as with some of the pictures I’ve posted elsewhere in this thread. Is there any such possibility for the site you’ve linked?


  • Nabeguy

    Ah, Neil, a fellow Shorpy addict. Love that site, and that particular picture.Can even see the back of my house on Middagh Streeet across from PS 8. If I can figure out how to post a page for public consumption from FB, I’ll try to pick a representative one.