More on the Anchor at 76 Montague

On Saturday I received a phone call from Mr. Wolf Spille, owner of the soon-to-be-evicted anchor that has graced Montague Street since 1981, when Mr. Spille acquired the building at 76 Montague as offices for his ship brokerage business. Although he later sold the building, and now lives in North Carolina, he still owns the anchor, which until now the building’s owner, and each of its successive tenants, has been happy to leave in place. Now that a restaurant is moving in, its owner wants the space the anchor occupies for outdoor tables.

I asked Mr. Spille about the anchor’s history. Was it a real ship’s anchor that had seen service, or just a decorative sculpture? He told me it was genuine. When he bought the building, he wanted an anchor to display in front of it. He wanted one that was of about the same age as the building, mid 19th century, and went to a shipbreaker’s yard on Staten Island. There he found the anchor, mostly buried in mud. He knew it was a type used on sailing ships from about 1830 to 1860.

Mr. Spille had read our earlier post about the anchor; like me, he would very much like to see it remain in Brooklyn Heights, in a place easily visible to the public, as a reminder of our maritime heritage. He said he thought the Promenade, either the “roundel” at the Remsen Street entrance or the fenced space adjacent to the flagpole at the Montague Street entrance, would be ideal. I told him some people had expressed concerns about possible liability. He said children, including his own, had climbed on the anchor for 34 years without any injury.

IMG_9033_1Yesterday, as I was walking from the Promenade to the Fruit Street Sitting Area, I noticed children playing on the armillary globe that the Parks Department is happy to have at the Promenade’s north end. Is there any good reason why the anchor shouldn’t “anchor” the Promenade’s south end?

Update: Mr. Spille called again today. He read this post, and saw something I hadn’t noticed: in the photo at the top of this post, taken this past Saturday, the anchor chain, which came with the anchor when it was purchased in 1981, is missing. Compare with the photo taken in January, which headed our earlier post:

IMG_8673_1Mr. Spille said, “This indicates something is already afoot.”

Publisher’s Note: To support keeping the anchor in Brooklyn Heights, “like” this page on Facebook now!

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  • Notjudgejudy

    Anchor away!

  • jv

    It totally should anchor the south end. How about parents watch their kids and not allow them to climb all over things that aren’t there to be climbed upon?

  • Lori

    No, it should not be at the Remsen Circle. The NOrth end of the promenade is rarely utilized. However, the Remsen Circle is utilized much more, especially 4 of July weekend when there are fireworks. I think the anchor would present a danger in that spot. It should be housed behind a fence, either at the foot of Montague Street, or along the promenade, as the “Thunderbird” sculpture is.

  • Lori

    But the kids have been climging it for years. The anchor has been and would continue to be an unavoidable temptation.

  • Mini_Cooper

    Great idea. Let’s put it on the Promenade — either end.

  • Heightsman


  • Banet

    South end. No fence. Let kids climb on it. If parents think it’s unsafe then the parents will tell their child to stop. And again, as the current owner said:

    “…children, including his own, had climbed on the anchor for 34 years without any injury.”

  • rocco

    excellent idea !

  • ujh

    If Mr. Spille continues to be the rightful owner of the anchor, it seems to me that the restaurant operator/owner cannot remove and dispose of it without his permission. Did he also pay for the posts and chain and their installation? We need to find out from CB2 whether their disposition of the anchor was included in its deliberation when it recommended approval of the restaurateur’s application to place tables and chairs on the sidewalk.

  • suzanne goss

    wow I feel like that anchor has been there longer than since 1981 — does anyone recall what was at that location prior?

  • ClaudeScales

    The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange was the tenant from some years until 1978, when the building’s owner sold it and the Exchange moved to 55 Pierrepont, where it is now. I don’t know what was there between 1978 and ’81.

  • suzanne goss

    thanks. For some reason I remember climbing on the anchor but not while I was in high school… :)

  • Andrew Porter

    Excellent point. Who removed the chain, apparently without Spille’s knowledge or permission?

  • Robert Perris

    CB2 did not review a sidewalk café application at this address.

  • MonroeOrange

    kids have been climbing on it for the last 35 years….are you saying all our parents were irresponsible bc we were allowed to climb on it?!

    Its the parents who would sue, bc we have become such a litigious society…those parents are the problem, not the ones who let the kids play and don’t sue when the get hurt..its part of growing up.

    Does anyone remember the original peirpont park playground…we would jump from a wooden structure ten feet high into sand 4 inches deep surrounded by concrete…that park would never be allowed in this sue first society.

  • ujh

    Re Rob Perris’s statement that CB2 did not review the restaurateur’s application for a license to operate an outdoor café, I’ve learned such applications don’t need CB recommendation when the space to be occupied is within the building’s property line.
    Claude, have you asked Mr. Spille whether the restaurateur has been in touch with him regarding the anchor’s disposition? Is the BHA willing to assist in charting the way to a resolution?

  • ClaudeScales

    Mr. Spille said he would make inquiries regarding the missing chain. He wants the anchor to remain in Brooklyn Heights. I hope the BHA will be willing to help, but initial indications aren’t encouraging. I think Mr. Spille’s offer to donate the anchor to the BHA made them go into a defensive crouch out of fear of possible liability.

  • ujh

    In view of its wealth of expertise, the BHA could at least guide Mr. Spille to, say, the bureau in the parks department in charge of monuments with authority to negotiate the gift and having it placed in the fenced flagpole area or elsewhere along the Promenade. The BBP could also be approached to determine whether it’s interested in having this antique anchor for display in the park below the Promenade.