Brooklyn Heights Blog » History Dispatches from America's first suburb Fri, 21 Jun 2024 01:58:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Happy Pride Month! Events to Commemorate and Celebrate Pride in and Around Brooklyn Heights Sat, 01 Jun 2024 15:16:22 +0000

Pride Month honors the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 — the birth of the modern Queer Rights movement. In the 1950’s, Brooklyn Heights became the center of the City’s gay culture, with the first gay bar in Brooklyn, Tony Bonner’s Supper Club, opening at 80 Montague St. Read more about the Supper Club and see photos of the interior in this Patreon post by Hugh Ryan, and celebrate Pride Month at these events in and around Brooklyn Heights.

Stonewall 55: Legacy Without Limits
June 20, 2024, 6:00 pm
St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, 157 Montague St.

St. Ann’s LGBTQ+ Action Group invites you to Stonewall 55: Legacy Without Limits, a commemoration and celebration of the Stonewall uprising. Join St. Ann’s in honoring the past, embracing the present, and shaping the future of the LGBTQ+ movement. RSVP today!

This commemoration of the Stonewall uprising will begin with a slideshow of photographs of the era taken by Village Voice photographer Fred McDarrah, followed by a performance by drag artist Dev Doee.

We’ll explore the legacy of Stonewall with a panel moderated by Kay Turner, historian, folklorist, and Queer Studies professor, and featuring Ben Garcia, Executive Director of the American LGBTQ+ Museum; Suhaly Bautista-Carolina, Director of Public Programs and Partnerships at the American LGBTQ+ Museum; and Riot Mueller, United Methodist Church pastor and LGBTQ Religious Archives Network staff member.

After an encore performance by Dev Doee, we will honor Mickey Heller of the Brooklyn Pride organization and the members of the first-ever LGBTQ+ Caucus of the NYC Council. A set by the magnificent pop/rock trio BETTY will lift our spirits and round out the celebration.

You won’t want to miss this! The event is FREE and open to all, so bring your friends and neighbors. RSVP online.

Pride Interfaith Service
First Presbyterian Church Brooklyn, 124 Henry St.
June 4, 2024, 6:00 pm

Come together with Brooklyn Pride, Inc. and local religious organizations in an evening of fellowship and music as we celebrate Pride: All Day, Everyday. There will be a welcoming reception from 6 -7:00 pm, with service beginning at 7:00 pm. We will also be livestreaming the event in the event that you are unable to attend in person. RSVP at this link.

Lunch with Pride
June 6, 2024, 12:00 pm
2 Metrotech Place

Brooklyn Pride in Collaboration with Downtown Brooklyn is shaking up your lunch break in our first ever “Lunch With Pride” event. Brooklyn Pride will raffle off a pair of tickets to the Brooklyn Cyclones Pride Night happening on the same night. There will also be some exciting performances by Robert Garcia, Justy and The Bad Judies, so please join us in some lunch break fun.

Brooklyn Pride Events

See all events around Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Pride website.


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Brooklyn Women’s Exchange Celebrates 170th Anniversary – Get Your Tickets to the Gala on Monday, June 3rd at 6 pm Sun, 26 May 2024 18:59:01 +0000

The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange is celebrating 170 incredible years of supporting independent craftspeople from Brooklyn and beyond, and invites all to its 170th Anniversary Benefit Gala.

Join us for our 170th Anniversary Benefit, taking place on Monday, June 3rd at St Ann’s Parish Hall (157 Montague St.). During this evening, we will pay tribute to our esteemed past presidents for their invaluable contributions in steering the BWE on its remarkable journey of success.

Starting at 6 PM, we’ll celebrate with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and plenty of FUN, featuring raffle baskets brimming with handcrafted treasures!

We kindly ask for your support of the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, as your contribution is crucial to our ongoing sustainability.

Support this historical and important organization and get your tickets at this link.


The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, EIN 11-2650941.


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A 19th Century Real Estate Covenant has Shaped Brooklyn Heights and Incited Litigation Thu, 25 Apr 2024 02:57:43 +0000

A very big hat tip to readers “Karen and Chad” for putting a link to this New York Times article, co-written by Brooklyn Heights Association President Jeremy Lechtzin and Times correspondent Aliza Aufrichtig, on last week’s OTW. The portrait, from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, is of Hezekiah Beers Pierrepont (the name was originally Pierpont but Hezekiah changed it to Pierrepont “for added cachet”; yes, J. Pierpont Morgan was a cousin), one of many New Englanders — he was from New Haven; his grandfather, James Pierpont, was one of the founders of Yale University — who came to Brooklyn in the early ninteenth century seeing opportunity in new industries, a seaport, and, in Pierrepont’s instance, residential development. He bought large tracts of land in what is now Brooklyn Heights.

With the opening of Robert Fulton’s steam ferry service between lower Manhattan and Brooklyn at Fulton Ferry, just below the Heights, Pierrepont saw the possibility of selling homesites to well-to-do Manhattanite businessmen and professionals who could commute by ferry to work. “Pierrepont mapped out his land with today’s familiar street grid and filled it with 25-by-100-foot building lots.” Beyond that,

More important but less celebrated, Pierrepont then shifted his pitch to promise that the neighborhood character would be backed up by a legal guarantee. Only dwelling houses would be allowed — no rear-lot cooperages or blacksmith shops mixed in with residential uses. The homes had to be made of brick, with slate or metal roofs — no cheap, fire-prone, wood-frame, shingled-roof houses. They had to be actual (or aspiring) mansions — a minimum of 25 feet wide and two stories tall. All “to be set back 8 feet to form a straight line of fronts the whole length on each side of the streets.

It’s this eight foot setback requirement that has made news recently. In February of last year we noted that St. Francis College had sold its vacated campus to Alexico Group for $200 million. Then, not quite two months later, we noted that the sale had gone through, not to Alexico but to Rockrose Development Corp. with a $40 million haircut to the price. Alexico is now in litigation against both St. Francis and Rockrose, claiming that

after Alexico tried to delay the closing, both defendants breached contracts they had with the plaintiff. Alexico also offered an explanation for their delay: uncertainty over an eight-foot property-line setback requirement that restricted the site’s redevelopment and affected its value.

Insert your favorite aphorism here about the dangers of ignorance of history.

Lechtzin’s and Aufrichtig’s Times article is well worth reading for an abundance of details about Brooklyn Heights history.

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Jeremy Lechtzin New Brooklyn Heights Association President Mon, 01 Apr 2024 02:29:56 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has announced that Jeremy Lechtzin is the new President of its Board of Governors. His President’s Message is here. According to the BHA:

He is an architectural historian and technology lawyer. Jeremy focuses his history work on early Brooklyn, currently writing a data-driven analysis of every house built in Brooklyn Heights and creating a digital map of the lost streetscape of the Village of Brooklyn as it existed in 1816.

He was honored as one of the BHB Ten for 2021 “for his passion for and vast knowledge of Brooklyn’s architectural history.” He also had a guest post on BHB in 2011 opposing construction of a “too massive” townhouse at 27 Cranberry Street. The Landmarks Preservation Commission denied plans for its construction.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Lechtzin

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47 Story Building to Rise at Montague and Cadman Plaza West Mon, 25 Mar 2024 02:32:30 +0000

According to New York YIMBY developer Jonathan Landau has filed for permits to construct a 47 story mixed commercial and residential building at 205 Montague Street (see photo from Google Maps). While the building now there fronts on Montague, it extends along Cadman Plaza West to Pierrepont Street. It presently houses TD Bank’s branch. Word is that TD will move to another space on Montague. We suspect, and hope, that it will be the space at 183 Montague, formerly occupied by Citibank, which has a pre-built banking layout.

While we don’t have a rendering of what the new building, to be designed by Hill West Architects, will look like, Brownstoner did an illustration of a 700 foot tall building, the maximum allowed for the site. The proposed building is to be 672 feet tall.

One matter of historical note: the building that stood on the site of the present 205 Montague, and that had the address 215 Montague, held the headquarters of the Brooklyn Dodgers until they moved to L.A., and was where the Dodgers made history by signing Jackie Robinson, the first Black baseball player to be signed to a Major League contract. There’s a plaque on the present 205 Montague commemorating this. We presume the new owner will preserve it and put it on the new building.

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Women’s History Month Film Screening: “The Philadelphia 11″ at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Sunday, March 17th at 1:00 pm Wed, 13 Mar 2024 01:12:18 +0000

From St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church:

Film Screening: The Philadelphia 11

Join us in-person on Sunday, March 17 at 1:00pm at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church (157 Montague St.) for a screening of the powerful new documentary film, The Philadelphia 11.

The Philadephia 11 tells the story of the first eleven women ordained as Episcopal priests at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia on July 29, 1974. Called the Philadelphia 11, their faithful act of civil disobedience changed The Episcopal Church and challenged the patriarchy within it.

The screening will be held in the parish hall. A light lunch will be served prior to the start of the film. All are welcome to join us for this exciting Women’s History Month event!

The screening is free and you can RSVP at this link.


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Brooklyn Art Song Society Presents “February House” at First Unitarian Friday Evening Mon, 26 Feb 2024 03:34:07 +0000

This Friday evening, March 1, the Brooklyn Art Song Society will present “February House”, a collection of songs by artists who lived at or were associated with the house at 7 Middagh Street, later demolished to make way for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which got its name from the fact that several of its inhabitants had February birthdays. The house was owned by George Davis, a literary editor, who resolved to have as many interesting people living there as possible. The result is described in Sherill Tippins’ book February House. Among those who lived there during the early 1940s were the poet W.H. Auden, the composer Benjamin Britten, the novelist Carson McCullers, and the ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee who, while resident there, wrote her mystery novel The G-String Murders.

The concert will be held at the First Unitarian Congregational Society, 119 Pierrepont Street (corner of Monroe Place). Beginning at 7:00 there will be a pre-concert lecture by Tippins. The concert will begin at 7:30 and will include several works by Britten, as well as songs by Kurt Weill who, while not a resident of the house, was a close friend of Davis and no doubt was a guest there on occasion. Four of the Weill songs on the program are based on poems by Brooklyn poet and legend Walt Whitman.

You may purchase tickets here.

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Montague Street BID Meeting Featuring Martha Foley, Wed. Feb. 28, 3 PM Thu, 22 Feb 2024 00:51:21 +0000

Montague Street BID’s annual meeting this year will feature an honorary contributor of Brooklyn Heights Blog, Martha Foley, by virtue of being married to BHB’s Claude Scales for a very long time. Martha has also contributed many photos and tips to Claude over the years that generated many a blog posts. Not only one half of this Brooklyn Heights power couple, Martha is a historian and archivist, and a longtime volunteer of the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange.

Also on the agenda for the meeting, property owners and Montague Street merchants will vote on BID goals, budgets and activities for 2024.

When: Wednesday, February 28 · 3pm

Where: Brown Harris Stevens, 129 Montague Street, Lower Level

Register at this link.

If you can’t attend in person, a link to join by Zoom will be emailed to you after February 21st.

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Landmarks Preservation Commission Hearing on Proposed New Grace Court Townhouse Tuesday Sun, 28 Jan 2024 21:29:00 +0000 The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, January 30 on the proposal to build a new townhouse at 39 Grace Court. The agenda for the hearing is here. You may participate in the hearing, either in person or remotely, but must register here no later than 7:00 a.m. Tuesday. The hearing will be held in the public hearing room at 90 Centre Street, Manhattan, starting at 9:30 a.m. The matter of 39 Grace Court is scheduled to be heard beginning at 11:00 a.m., though that is subject to change. Those wishing to participate or follow the hearing are encouraged to be there or tune in by 10:00. Renderings of the proposed new building, along with photographs of the building site as it is now and the neighboring area, are here.

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Should Brooklyn Heights Lose Its Historically Protected Status to Allow for Affordable Housing? Tue, 23 Jan 2024 04:29:44 +0000

Three weeks ago Binyamin Appelbaum’s opinion piece, “I Want a City, Not a Museum”, appeared in the New York Times. Mr. Appelbaum blamed the city’s lack of affordable housing on its “preserving the corporeal city of bricks and steel at the expense of its residents and of those who might live here.” He noted that two of his great-great grandparents lived in a still standing townhouse on Willow Street. He called Brooklyn Heights “a New York version of Colonial Williamsburg” and concluded his essay with this:

I hope someday I’ll be walking with my children on the Lower East Side or the Upper West Side or Brooklyn Heights. We’ll pass one of the places where my ancestors lived, and the building will be gone. In its place will stand an apartment building, housing a new generation of New Yorkers.

Yesterday the Times published three letters responding to Mr. Appelbaum. The first, by Daniel Dolgicer, noted that Mr. Appelbaum described Brooklyn Heights as “fossilized” and asked, “Would he say that Paris has been ‘fossilized’ because its city leaders preserve its buildings?” The second, by Sarah C. Bronin, chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, cited another Times guest essay, “”How to Make Room for One Million New Yorkers”, by Vishaan Chakrabarti, that proposes solutions to the housing availability and affordability crisis that do not involve eliminating existing historic districts. The third letter, by Nathan Landau, a “former New Yorker and city planner,” also cites Mr.Chakrabarti’s piece, and notes that nearby suburbs “well served by rail and bus transit” have much capacity for new housing and that “[l]ow-rise and mid-rise housing could be built in these communities while respecting their character.”

In a post here in 2017 I considered this same issue in conversation with Sandy Ikeda, an economics professor and Heights resident who, although he said he enjoyed living here, objected to the historic district designation on libertarian grounds.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Spoke at Plymouth Church 61 Years Ago, Calling for Peace and Brotherhood Mon, 15 Jan 2024 19:30:46 +0000

In February of 1963 the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a guest sermon at Plymouth Church, then called Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, in Brooklyn Heights. He spoke at the invitation of Plymouth’s then Senior Minister, the Rev. Dr. Harry Kreuner. In his sermon, which called for brotherhood and world peace, Dr. King touched on themes that would later appear in his “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered in August of that year. Details of the Plymouth Church sermon are in this Eagle story by Francesca Norsen Tate, originally published on April 3, 2018 and republished today.

Image: Martin Luther King, Jr. photographed by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964. LC-DIG-ppmsc-01269 Source: Library of Congress

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Do You Hear What I Hear? Two Chances this Weekend—and a Few More Before Christmas– to Hear Plymouth Church’s Delightful Minister of Music, Raymond Trapp—and Sing Along Too Sat, 16 Dec 2023 22:28:11 +0000

Before I ever met Raymond Trapp, I asked him a favor. I was hoping he could help me with a sing-along after the 175th Anniversary celebration dinner of Plymouth Church last November. He was the recently-named interim Minister of Music. “Just a few songs, we could sing around the piano,” I’d said. He quickly agreed. I don’t know if he expected a list of praise and worship music, but a few days before the dinner, I sent him my list: Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline was number one—a personal favorite. Next up was ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” I’d also added Broadway favorites like “Seasons of Love” from Rent, “Age of Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” from Hair and selections from Oklahoma, Mame and more. There was Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and several Beatles tunes plus Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Pretty much the only hymn was the rousing The Shining Shore.

Plymouth anniversary hymn and favorite hymn of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

Plymouth anniversary hymn and favorite hymn of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher


If Raymond was shocked, he didn’t say. But I was delightfully surprised on the day of the event as I watched him unload a keyboard and hold the door for a drummer and guitarist. He’d brought a band of friends to get us through. They played all of the requests with joy and humor. He didn’t say a word about how I shrieked along like bad karaoke. The event was fun.  I don’t think that room was rocking that much since Mrs. Beecher’s sewing circle got into the eggnog in 1849—-OK, just kidding, I made that up. Sorry, Mrs. Beecher. But it was a memorable 175th anniversary jubilee and whomever is planning the 200th should take note.

175th Anniversary Sing-Along

175th Anniversary Sing-Along

Raymond has now been Plymouth’s permanent Minister of Music for nearly a year and he’s hosted his own sing-alongs. At October’s Yankee Fair, he featured three singers plus his jazzy band friends, keeping “Dancing Queen” and adding a favorite finale from Grease “We Go Together” (you know, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John: We go together Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.)


We entered Advent with him at the piano again, with kids and adults singing along to favorite hymns. Then Raymond, undaunted by a seventh grader’s request of Mariah Carey, lead all of us, very few trained choristers, I should note, in “All I Want for Christmas is You.” I’m not sure Mariah needs to worry about her royalties, but I’ll bet we had more fun than she does singing it. With his trademark humor and spunk, we ended with a rousing “Feliz Navidad.”


Raymond is a delightful musician and if you haven’t heard him and the Plymouth Choir, there are two chances this weekend. On Sunday at 11:00 a.m., the theme is Joy and he and the choir will offer the classic “Joy to the World” followed by “Christmas Time is Here” by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelsohn—what my family calls “Charlie Brown music”—with sax, drums and keyboard.



On Sunday night, December 17, the annual and long-standing Plymouth service of Lessons and Carols is free and open to the public at 6:00 p.m. There will be some singalong, some traditional carols, some guest musicians and chamber orchestra and lots of joy and wonder of the Christmas season. Do not miss that. (And if you do, there’s community caroling December 21 at 6 p.m. and three services on Christmas Eve—11 a.m., 4 p.m. for families and 6 p.m. for all.)



To my ear, Raymond would be perfect for a barroom or Jazz at Lincoln Center, but his actual credentials in chorale and sacred music are more impressive. He’s a Colleague of the American Guild of Organists and was elected as the first African American Dean of the Brooklyn Chapter. He has a B.A. in Music from Hunter College and a Master’s Degree in Sacred Music/Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey. Raymond was formerly director of music in East Flatbush, Brooklyn at Vanderveer Park United Methodist Church and served multiple terms as Worship and Music Director for the UMC national conference.

His training and interests fit in with Plymouth’s rich musical history. Back in 1855, Plymouth’s Rev. Beecher, his brother Charles and John Zundel, the widely known church organist created the “Plymouth Collection” known as America’s first hymnal. Plymouth’s website notes this:



Beecher wanted what he called “a singing church.” He concluded that the way to accomplish this was to put the hymns–both the words and the music–into the hands of the congregation. What many experts also consider revolutionary was Beecher’s concept of “usefulness,” bringing together popular and singable music from many denominations. Joining Beecher in creating The Plymouth Collection were his brother, Charles Beecher, and John Zundel, the widely admired organist at the Church.

In the fall of 1855, The Plymouth Collection entered the pews of Plymouth, and full congregational singing became the church’s hallmark. News spread quickly to churches of other faiths, and it was not long before Beecher’s hymnal carried congregational singing far beyond its Brooklyn roots.

All I know is, over here in 2023, I heard Raymond and drummer Chris DeRosa jamming with glee at last weekend’s Christmas pageant.




I’ve also heard Raymond and the present-day choir practicing my favorite Christmas song—“Do You Hear What I Hear?” In these dark days, I need to hear singing and joy and “voices as big as the sea.”  I can’t wait to pitch Raymond on a broad community sing along to warm up the coming 2024 winter chill, but until then, as this community rolls into Christmas, come and hear what I hear too.


Peace on Earth.

Follow the Brooklyn Heights Blog and follow me at Insta: kostercaroline75 and X: @aikenkoster   © 2023 Caroline Aiken Koster. All rights reserved.

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Grace Church Celebrates 175th Anniversary Mon, 11 Dec 2023 03:58:28 +0000

This morning Grace Church, 254 Hicks Street (corner of Grace Court) celebrated the 175th anniversary of the first service held in its building, which was on December 10, 1848. The service, officiated by The Reverend Dr. Allen F. Robinson, fifteenth Rector of Grace, shown preaching in the phoro above. used the same liturgy and music as the 1848 service.

Following the service there was a reception in the church’s Guild Hall. During the reception, architectural conservationist and Grace parishioner Kim Lovejoy gave a talk about the building’s history. The main building was designed by Richard Upjohn in the High Gothic style. The Parish House, that includes space for Grace Church School, was completed in 1931. Ms. Lovejoy drew attention to some interesting aspects of the main building’s design, including its open trusswork ceiling, and described the history of interior re-decorations that led to the uncovering, in 2014, of the elaborate ceiling and wall designs dating from the late ninteenth century. Parishioner Robert Whiteford then talked briefly about the stained glass windows, which also date from the late ninteenth century, and include works from studios such as those of J&R Lamb, Franz Mayer of Munich. and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

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For Barbra Fans: Center for Brooklyn History Presents a Panel Discussion of Her Book, Followed by a Musical Tribute Mon, 04 Dec 2023 04:57:37 +0000

Brooklyn native Barbra Streisand’s “chatty and candid” (the New York Times) autobiography, My Name Is Barbra, is the subject of a panel discussion, moderated by filmmaker Ethan Fuirst with panelists Maris Kreizman, Soraya Nadia McDonald, and Jonathan Tolins at the Center for Brooklyn History, 128 Pierrepont Street (corner of Clinton) this Wednesday, December 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Following the discussion there will be a performance of a “Streisand inspired number” by “Brooklyn based cabaret and drag artist” Ella Fartzgerald. You will also be able to see, in the CBH’s collection, the page from the 1959 Erasmus Hall High School yearbook with the image of seventeen year old Barbara Streisand (yes, she changed the spelling) and some classmates. There’s more information and RSVP here.

Image: public domain.

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Halloween Memories in Brooklyn Heights, the return of Plymouth Church’s Yankee Fair and a Plan for Saturday’s Packed Community Calendar Thu, 26 Oct 2023 20:14:03 +0000

I suppose we could have a debate, but I’d win: there’s really nothing more Fall than Halloween in Brooklyn Heights. And with a world going sideways, we need community, small humans and canines in costumes, Fall lovers and spectators, pumpkins, homemade treats and gratitude in this harvest home. BOrough HallThis Saturday, October 28th, is shaping up for a good dose of all of those things in the neighborhood. 

Now, there are many options, but I’m partial to at least part of the day being spent at Plymouth Church’s historic Yankee Fair. It’s back post-pandemic!  Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 75 Hicks Street, with Orange Street closed off for kid rides and booths. yankee fairpumpkin line

I’ll be there early slinging Roebling Lattes and Promenade Fogs—my fancy names for toting along my beloved milk frother to top off standard church coffee and tea with foam—at my booth—Brooklyn Loaves + Dishes.  Stop by if you want to talk neighborhood stuff and nosh on magic bars and poppy seed bread between visits to the book sale, vintage clothing, history tours, chili lunch, sing-alongs and pumpkin crafts.Yankee Fair schedule

BloomAgainBklyn will be there spreading flowers and joy too! BloomYankee

Profits go to Heifer International for world food relief so track down your Venmo password.

Alas, my kids have outgrown the BHA’s annual Brooklyn Heights Halloween Parade, which also kicks off on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Clark Street, traveling down the Promenade. Don’t miss it! Please indulge me a little Parade nostalgia—a personal Eras Tour—starting with my #1 favorite family costume creation: 

a homemade Empire State Building and Miss Liberty circa 2000. halloweenempirestate

It was an innocent time.

Little did we know the next Halloween, we’d need Batman or something,.. anything…to carry us through Gotham’s darkest days. Batman

Halloween of 2001 was somber. Our homemade Batmobile had a flag license plate. Neighbors flooded local firehouses, reeling from September 11th losses, with donated candy and community warmth. We paraded our wagons and Batmans and Barbies, princesses, pirates and Power Rangers, ghouls, dinosaurs and puppies to pay respects to the real superheroes–our first responders.fireman

And our community somehow carried on. 

Young neighbors at the Hicks Street Firehouse--October 31, 2001.

Young neighbors at the Hicks Street Firehouse–October 31, 2001.

Until eventually, we were able to gaze upwards again.Family

This Saturday, with so many choices, how about a circuit of the neighborhood? You could stop in at Plymouth’s Yankee Fair for your latte, pick up a HandMade Booth knit cap or one of my vintage NYC subway map ornaments made while watching messed up news this week (and if we’re honest, mostly by my husband James, a local architect and waaaaay more skillful with the Modge Podge).subwayornament

Get an early look at the trunks of vintage jewelry donated for this year’s sale and then stroll to the Promenade for the BHA Parade at 11 a.m. and down to the event-filled Montague BID Open Streets for games and demonstrations. Then make your way back to Plymouth for a community lunch of pulled pork and vegan chili, and an Underground Railroad history tour.

Or, start at the Parade, linger on Montague Open Streets and come by Yankee Fair in the afternoon in time for Raymond Trapp and his jazzy friends to warm you up at the 2 p.m. community singalong. I hear they’re playing Sweet Caroline! Watch kids bounce away the sugar. Or grab a last minute costume at the Underground Thrift Store. By then, the Trinkets and Treasures booth may have gone half price and the book sellers will be begging you to fill a bag on the cheap.Booksbanned

At Brooklyn Loaves + Dishes, I’ll sell you my famous Kentucky Derby pie—bipartisan this year with Brooklyn and Kentucky bourbon—for your Thanksgiving (they freeze well!) derbypiebipartisanAnd, you can shop the frozen food aisle for dinner—applesauce, pesto from basil grown in Red Hook, holy bread pudding with bourbon sauce, French commando onion soup and Uncle Frankie’s Beef Bourguignon.apples

I’ll give you an ice pack so you can finish off your late afternoon along Montague Street, maybe even ending at the Cocktail Co-op at Clinton and Henry for an adult beverage from a local merchant.

Yankee Fair has been building tradition in Brooklyn Heights for years. PlymouthOLD

Check out these vintage posters.yankeefair1970 yankeefairOld2 YankeeFairOLD YankeeFair1960s

I’ll throw in a free latte or pretzel rod if you mention this post!pretzel For the healthy eaters, I adorned some with dark chocolate, chia and hemp seeds, so no excuses.

Or try a sample of  Brooklyn Granola– because we are all a bit sweet and a bit salty, sometimes nutty, sometimes nutritious— and all mixed into this together.granola fixings

Whatever you do this weekend, soak in Brooklyn Heights at Halloween. I’ll see you out there. I’m grateful for our community of warmth where we stand together, in the toughest days, costumed up as needed, and counting on each other.BatmanAmericanflag

Follow the Brooklyn Heights Blog and follow me at Insta: kostercaroline75 and X: @aikenkoster © 2023 Caroline Aiken Koster. All rights reserved.


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Plymouth Church Hosts Panel on Food Justice Tomorrow; Yankee Fair Saturday, October 28 Sat, 14 Oct 2023 17:23:46 +0000

Tomorrow (Sunday, October 15) from 12:30 until 2:00 PM Plymouth Church will present a panel discussion on Food Justice in recognition of World Hunger Sunday.

[W]e will gather in our Reception Room to share a simple lunch of rice and beans and talk about food insecurity in our own city. Last year, the mayor’s office estimated more than 1.2 million New Yorkers live without … access to enough food. Many of our neighbors worry that the food will run out before their next paycheck comes. So we will hear from The Campaign Against Hunger, CHIPS, United Community Centers, and Council Member Restler talk about their work in combating hunger in our neighborhoods.

If you would like to attend, please register here.

On Saturday, October 28, Plymouth will hold its annual Yankee Fair from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM. There will be a “Family
Street Fair” on Orange Street between Hicks and Henry, with “fun & games,” a “children’s sing-along,” and “Lunch for Everyone.” There will also be an indoor market where you may purchase books, food items, craft items, knick-knacks, and, at the Underground Thrift Store, clothing. You may also take a tour of the historic church, where Abraham Lincoln worsshiped before declaring his candidacy for President, and The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher conducted his campaign against slavery.

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Brooklyn Public Library’s Center for Brooklyn History Re-Opens Mon, 18 Sep 2023 03:16:31 +0000

The Brooklyn Public Library has announced the re-opening of the Center for Brooklyn History after three years of renovations. The Center, located at 128 Pierrepont Street (corner of Clinton) was previously the Brooklyn Historical Society, and before that the Long Island Historical Society (yes, Brooklyn is part of Long Island). Its Queen Anne style building (photo) was designed by George B. Post, whose best known still standing building is the New York Stock Exchange. It was completed in 1881.

The Center has much to offer those interested in local history. The Othmer Library “is a haven for reserch, collections. archives and ephemera on all things Brooklyn.” You may search the Center’s collections here, and it features temporary exhibitions. Its opening exhibition, Brooklyn is …., “celebrates the people and neighborhoods of our diverse, richly textured borough.” You are invited to “add your voice” to the exhibition by posting a photo or memory here.

The Center is open Monday through Friday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and closed Sunday.

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My First Dispatch: On Moving to Brooklyn in 1996 as We Welcome September in the Best Neighborhood in NYC Tue, 12 Sep 2023 22:44:20 +0000

Greetings neighbors—the first dispatch from me, Caroline Aiken Koster, your newest BHBlogger here.

This first post has me thinking about moving to Brooklyn Heights in Fall of 1996. Until then, my husband James and I, fresh out of graduate school and landing in Manhattan from our hometowns of Louisville and Cincinnati, rented a standard NYC starter on 23rd Street. It had one spectacular feature: a roof that Big Apple dreams are made of. A spiral staircase lead to a popped-up bedroom with a slider accessing the tar beach overlooking Park Avenue. There was a low parapet wall and railing; but no fences between neighbors. We shared that glorious turf with an urban gardener and a rotating cast of Elite models and Credit Suisse analysts cycling through the four bedroom rental next door. Plus we two Kosters! Newly married and newly minted New Yorkers.

Fast forward four years and a million tales from that aerie. I’m pregnant. Those stairs are too treacherous for an infant, the parapet, too low, the stuff, too much. My husband’s architect gang had decamped to Brooklyn Heights. “Just look there,” he urged as we considered our next home.

It seemed a bridge too far.

But after dinner in a friend’s back garden at Henry and State, I envisioned myself here. We walked into a Montague Street real estate office and an agent named Wade greeted us, gently guiding us through Brownstone floor throughs and Fruit Street walk ups and feeding us Fatoosh on Hicks, my first Middle Eastern food. Soon, I handed him his first homemade Kentucky Derby pie to celebrate our new home on Livingston Street. Three years later, pregnant again, we used a Saw-Z-All to cut a hole into the apartment next door, expanding our footprint and our family. Four Kosters, including our two sons, have called this neighborhood home ever since. After September 11, 2001, we added a golden retriever, Taxi.

“Well, said my mother, upon learning our new address would be in the 11201, “I guess if you win the lottery, you’ll move back to Manhattan.” “If I win the lottery, Mom,” I reminded her for years, “I’ll move up to the top floor of our building for the views or a setback apartment with a terrace, but that’s as far as I’m going.”


The view from the top of our building upon arrival in Brooklyn Heights 1996

The view from the top of our building upon arrival in Brooklyn Heights 1996


I never got a back garden or a roof deck. I’m still on a low floor…..all the better to keep an eye on the place we all share. But I forever delight in our neighborhood.

I’ve really traveled this summer—Bali, Singapore, New Jersey, Kentucky and Ohio, my family reunion in Appalachia, Maine, Vermont and many lazy beach days in a tiny cabana near Ft. Tilden. But when the 5 train brakes squeal at Borough Hall or the yellow cab rolls down Court Street from a late night at work, I know I am home.

I walked around our neighborhood—mine and yours–this weekend, reacquainting myself with our special corner now that I’ve taken on this (volunteer!) gig to write about it. There on Montague Street were children frolicking in a fire hydrant, P.S. 8 parents touting their school, little tykes playing big chess and strollers clogging the Open Streets cocktail corral. I saw businesses I’d barely noticed before and characters I’d forgotten about. At Borough Hall Greenmarket, Councilman Lincoln Restler offered me a September welcome back, compost and a rain barrel. Instead, I bought 99 ears of corn for the church picnic and the shiny new community fridge. Then I took my 99 year old friend Grace for a sit on the Promenade. We’ve got some work to do around here, but I marveled at our community.

On Sunday, at Plymouth Church, a perfectly timed litany reminded us to love our neighbors as we return to our routines this September. In the other churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, coffee shops, gyms, parks, gardens, groceries and quiet places where we gather, I know people are feeling that too.

I can’t wait to talk to all of you and share my Brooklyn Heights and yours. Thank you for having me, neighbors. Meanwhile, I found our old change of address card– a 1996 dispatch from a new family who crossed the Brooklyn Bridge many Septembers ago to grab a future here, in this place. One decision we’ve never regretted.


Change of Address notice for move to Brooklyn 1996

Change of Address notice for move to Brooklyn 1996


See you around soon! Let me know in the comments how you made it to this neighborhood. Start reading and posting in the Open Threads. Share your thoughts and tell your friends. There’s so much to talk about!

It’s September in Brooklyn!

Follow the Brooklyn Heights Blog and follow me at Insta: kostercaroline75 and X: @aikenkoster © 2023 Caroline Aiken Koster. All rights reserved.


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Last Minute Weekend Suggestions Fri, 17 Mar 2023 06:40:19 +0000

Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Pádraig (Blessings of St. Patrick’s Day). You can be sure of a lively time this evening at The Custom House, 139 Montague Stret (between Clinton and Henry) or at O’Keefe’s Bar & Grill, 62 Court Stret (between Joralemon and Livingston).

If you missed Theater 2020’s free reading of David Fuller’s The B’ard last Wednesday, there will be another free reading this Saturday afternoon, March 18, starting at 2:00 PM and lasting one hour, at the Brooklyn Heights Library, 286 Cadman Plaza West. No reservations are required.

On Saturday evening, at 7:30, Voices in the Heights will present a concert featuring KJ Denhert and ilyAIMY “all the way from Baltimore” at the McKinney Chapel of the First Unitarian Church, 121 Pierrepont Street (between Monroe Place and Clinton Street). “And yes, Dan will be baking those incredible desserts for your intermission pleasure.” You may attend in person or on line; tickets are available here.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you of my wife’s talk, with discussion, at St. Ann’s Church on Sunday afternoon, March 19, from 1:00 to 2:30. While the topic is the history of the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, you will also learn much about the history of women’s work in Brooklyn and about Brooklyn Heights’ social and real estate history. It’s free, and no reservations are required.

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St. Ann’s Church Celebrates Women’s History Month with Talk About History of the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange Wed, 15 Mar 2023 02:44:37 +0000

This coming Sunday, March 19 from 1:00 to 2:30 PM (preceded by a light luncheon at 12:30; the event is free and open to all) St.Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, corner of Clinton and Montague streets (enter at Clinton) will present, in recognition of Women’s History Month, a lecture, followed by discussion, about the mission and history of the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange. The lecture will be by the Exchange’s historian and archivist, Martha Foley (disclosure: your correspondent is Ms. Foley’s husband). There’s more information here. If you can’t attend in person, you may join online.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB

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Coming at the Center for Brooklyn History Mon, 14 Nov 2022 02:44:52 +0000

The Center for Brooklyn History of the Brooklyn Public Library has two interesting public programs coming up this month. Both will be virtual only, as CBH’s space at 128 Pierrepont Street is undergoing renovation. It is expected to be ready to host public programs this coming spring.

This coming Wednesday, November 16 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM CBH will present “Rescued from Obscurity: Sam Roberts on the Remarkable New Yorkers You’ve Never Heard Of.” Among those Mr. Roberts, a veteran New York Times reporter, will discuss are

[t]he woman who successfully sued a bus company for racial discrimination a century before Rosa Parks; the custodian-turned-real estate entrepreneur who gave Harlem it’s [sic] Black identity; the Jewish constable who defined the city’s policing”.

Joining Mr. Roberts to lead the discussion will be Pamela Newkirk, “a multifaceted scholar who has published a variety of works that present multidimensional portraits of African American life.” To attend, please register here.

On Tuesday, November 29 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM, CBH will present “Sewers: Messages from the Underground”, a discussion led by Jessica Leigh Hester, a journalist who “especially love[s] reporting on ecology and trash” and is the author of Sewer. She will be joined by a distinguished group of civil engineers, urban administrators, and ecologists to discuss “fatbergs, microplastics, Covid sampling, and cutting edge sewage technology, [that] will forever change how you think about what goes down our drains.” To join the discussion, please register here.

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Repast Baroque Ensemble Presents “Dueling Violins” Sat, 08 Oct 2022 03:44:33 +0000

The Repast Baroque Ensemble returns to Brooklyn Heights this coming Wednesday, October 13 with “Dueling Violins — Harmony and Strife in the 17th Century,” a concert featuring Repast’s new violinist, Natalie Rose Kress, along with guest violinist Beth Wenstrom, and Repast members Stephanie Corwin on bassoon, Gabe Shuford on harpsichord, and Sarah Abigael Stone on cello and viola da gamba. They will play music by Biber, Buxtehude, Schmelzer, Marini, and Bertali.

In this early period of violin repertoire, the technical exploration of the instrument’s possibilities — as well as the formal experimentation of the period — were thrilling and reflected the dramatic upheaval of Europe coming out of a time of major plagues and the trauma of the 30 Years War.”

The concert will take place in the McKinney Chapel of the First Unitarian Church, 121 Pierrepont Street (between Monroe Place and Clinton Street) starting at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $30 general admission, $20 seniors, and $10 students. You may purchase or reserve them here or pay by cash, check, or card at the door.

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9/11 Memorial Service on Promenade Sunday Evening Sun, 11 Sep 2022 02:43:53 +0000

Tomorrow, Sunday, September 11, starting at 7:15 PM, the Brooklyn Heights Interfaith Clergy Association, which includes representatives of various Christian, Jewish, and Muslim houses of worship in the neighborhood, will hold their annual candlelight memorial service for those who lost their lives in the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The service will be held near the Montague Street entrance to the Promenade. Tables will be set up at 5:00 PM for those who wish to write prayers for loved ones or friends, to be read at the service.

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Old Stone House Marks Anniversary of Battle of Brooklyn Fri, 19 Aug 2022 01:44:20 +0000

Saturday, August 27 will be the 246th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, the first battle of the War of Independence to pit Continental Army regulars under General George Washington against the British Army commanded by General William Howe. The story of the battle is here. The Old Stone House, site of the rear guard action (see image above) by a Maryland regiment that saved Washington’s retreat to Brooklyn Heights, is having a number of events to commemorate the anniversary, beginning this weekend and ending on Sunday, August 28. Most are free. There’s a schedule here.

Image: The Old Stone House

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Doyenne of Brooklyn Heights Who Housed Women Seeking Abortions in 1960’s Featured in New York Magazine Sat, 25 Jun 2022 22:41:38 +0000

Ninety-seven-year-old Grace Faison’s family has resided in Brooklyn Heights for generations. She is a graduate of Packer Collegiate and a fixture at Plymouth Church. Throughout her life has held “soft positions of power” at Plymouth, non-profits, and schools in the neighborhood.

When her children were small, her husband received an inheritance. The Faison family moved from a “lovely apartment with a leaky roof ” on Willow Street to a classic 12 in a high-end co-op. Once an empty-nester, Faison became a prominent Real Estate Broker. “I didn’t get on your list, you had to get on my list. You had to be somebody I knew the board would approve.” Grace is not one to hold back her opinions, apparently.

But lest you think Faison was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. At the Heights Casino, over her signature lunch of Ceasar salad and french fries, Faison tells  of NY Magazine how she went from widowed mother of one to Doyenne of Brooklyn Heights. And explains why she has only recently begun to tell the tale of how she quietly made her home a safe haven for women seeking abortions in the late 1960s. “Church ladies get sh*t done!”

She was prompted to speak out after Justice Alito’s draft opinion of the then-pending Roe v. Wade case was leaked. “I feel very angry at the way men treat women and don’t value them. It’s getting worse…This is the worst thing outside of war that they are doing. They are diminishing the value of women.” Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, Faison’s sharing her story now could serve as a road map for others. It is well worth the read for all the nuances she provides. So shines a good deed in a weary world.





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Juneteenth Events: Celebration at Cadman Park and Abolitionist Walk at BBP Mon, 13 Jun 2022 02:29:53 +0000

Cadman Park Conservancy’s Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration

Sunday, June 19th, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Cadman Park

The Cadman Park Conservancy will celebrate Juneteenth with “world renowned” DJ Tedsmooth, a free yoga class, children’s activities, performances, and more. Black-owned businesses, including Drip Coffee, NYC and Pixie Pods Kids, will be there to showcase their merchandise and services. You can also bid on this fantastic photograph of Tom Fruin’s Watertower by Hector Gonzalez (@nu_yo_rican) and other silent auction items.

Purchase a snazzy t-shirt to help fund the event here.

Juneteenth: Brooklyn and the Abolitionist Movement at BBP

Sunday, June 19th, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1.

“Juneteenth is a commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans in the United States. Join the Urban Park Rangers on a walk discussing Brooklyn’s significant history to the abolitionist movement in the United States. Registration is required.” See full details here and register at this link.

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Grace Chorale of Brooklyn Presents “The Constitution” at St. Ann’s Church This Weekend Mon, 09 May 2022 02:38:01 +0000

This coming weekend Grace Chorale of Brooklyn will present two performances, on Saturday, May 14 at 7:00 PM and on Sunday, May 15 at 3:00 PM, both at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Clinton and Montague streets (enter at Clinton) of Benjamin Yarmolinsky’s secular oratorio, accompanied by chamber orchestra, “The Constitution.”

Aside from the Declaration of Independence, no text epitomizes American ideals as much as the Constitution. Acknowledging the Constitution’s embodiment of 18th century values and language, the composer Ben Yarmolinsky has chosen a corresponding 18th century musical style, the Handelian oratorio, as the model for his setting of The Constitution. The work comprises choruses, arias, and recitatives, similar to the Messiah, but with a recognizably American sound that combines jazz rhythms, blues, folk, gospel, as well as Handelian flourishes to give voice to the Constitution’s iconic words in a clear, vigorous, and highly singable style. People might leave our performances humming an amendment or two!

Tickets start at $!5; there’s more information, and purchase tickets here.

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String Orchestra of Brooklyn Presents Haydn, Bologne, and Stravinsky at St. Ann’s Church Saturday Tue, 03 May 2022 02:31:56 +0000

The String Orchestra of Brooklyn, which delights in its acronym, will have a concert at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Montague and Clinton streets (enter from Clinton) on Saturday, May 7 at 8:00 PM. It will feature works by Haydn (Symphony No. 44, “Trauer”), Bologne (Symphony No. 2), and Stravinsky (Concerto in d for strings). While anyone with a casual knowledge of classical music will recognize Haydn and Stravinsky, Joseph Bologne (image; Mather Brown, 1787) is likely to be unfamiliar — he was to me. Born in the French Caribbean colony of Guadeloupe on Christmas day, 1745 to a White plantation owner and a Black slave, he developed an early talent for swordsmanship. He moved to Paris, where his fencing talent earned him the title Chevalier de Saint Georges. He then turned to music, first as a violinist, then as a concertmaster, and finally as a composer, with a long, fruitful career that produced numerous violin concertos, symphonies, and symphonies concertantes, as well as six operas. Although he had a “close relationship” with Queen Marie Antoinette, during the Revolution he sided with the rebels, though in a non-combatant role. He was imprisoned for a year and a half, released, and died in 1799.

Tickets at the door are $15 for general admission, or $10 for seniors or students; children under 18 are admitted free. You may purchase tickets online and pay a one dollar surcharge.

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That Other “Brooklyn” and its Bridge Mon, 04 Apr 2022 03:21:44 +0000

If you’ve spent any time in Brooklyn Heights, or if, like your correspondent, you live in this building, you’ve seen this awning and thought, “‘Breukelen,’ that looks a lot like ‘Brooklyn’.” With any knowledge of history you may have concluded that this was the name the Dutch settlers gave to this place, later Anglicized as Brooklyn.

As this Brooklyn Paper story tells us, what the residents of Breukelen, The Netherlands, think of as the original Brooklyn Bridge has recently completed the latest of many reconstructions. The Brooklyn Paper story also gives us a link to a video of a ceremony on May 21, 2021, celebrating the 375th anniversary of the founding of Breukelen/Brooklyn, New York and the signing of an agreement between then Borough President Eric Adams and Ap Reinders, Mayor of Stichtse Vecht, the municipality that includes Breukelen, commemorating the anniversary and proclaiming the continued kinship of the two places.

The video is 27 minutes long. It begins with three lovely Dutch women singing the Star Spangled Banner, followed by the Dutch national anthem. It includes short remarks by Mayor Reinders and then BP Adams, and many scenic views of Breukelen and Brooklyn. There’s a long segment about the history of Breukelen, in Dutch With English subtitles, followed by a history of the Dutch in Brooklyn by Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger.

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First Presbyterian Church Celebrates Bicentennial Mon, 28 Mar 2022 02:32:57 +0000

Brooklyn’s First Presbyterian Church was established in March of 1822, and has been in continuous operation since. It is located at 124 Henry Street, just south of Clark. To celebrate the Church’s bicentennial, it will be presenting “a year long calendar of events” that are open to the public. We will notify you of any upcoming events.

First Presbyterian has enjoyed a long and storied history within Brooklyn Heights,” said Senior Minister Rev. Adriene Thorne. “On this anniversary, we look back on the last 200 years to reflect upon the church’s beginning and the people who began FPC’s journey. As important, we look forward to the next 200 years of our journey. By examining the past, we ask how we can continue to serve our faith community and our local community. This year-long commemoration of where we came from will inform where we are going in God’s name.”

Most recently, First Presbyterian, through Rev. Thorne and parishioner Caroline Koster, has been instrumental in creating the Brooklyn Heights Community Fridge.

First Presbyterian initially occupied a building on Orange Street that was later sold to Plymouth Church. Its present sanctuary (photo), designed by William B. Olmstead, was completed in 1846, and the first service was held there in 1847.

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