Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I was aware of two houses in Brooklyn that were reportedly haunted.  One of them was a large mansion in Park Slope, a posh area of Brooklyn sloping down from Prospect Park.  The Thomas Adams Jr. House (also known as the Chiclet House because Adams invented Chiclet gum) was at the corner of Carroll Street and Eighth Avenue (115-119 Eighth Avenue).  It’s massive – all the red brick in the picture belongs to the one house which at some point was divided into 10 apartments.

The Adams mansion was the first house in Brooklyn to have an elevator, which the staff were never supposed to enter.  But when the Adams family went on vacation, the staff were tempted to fool around in the elevator and they got stuck inside between floors.  Apparently the trap in the ceiling of elevators hadn’t been invented because they all died in that elevator.  Quite a grim and stinky homecoming for the Adams family.  The original elevator was removed and the shaft is now an alcove in apartments on several floors.  Tenants have complained about hearing moaning noises and cries for help at night.

The other house in Brooklyn that was reportedly haunted was the one I lived in.  I went to visit at that house a month before I moved to Brooklyn.  The first night I was in the house, I walked down the hallway from the kitchen to the front room and as I passed the head of the stairs, something made me turn around.  It wasn’t a sound or any movement, but it was a strong feeling, and I expected to see someone at the head of the stairs.  No one was there. 

I asked if the house was haunted and one person told me that they heard footsteps following them down the stairs from that particular landing.  Hmm.  Could just have been the floor popping.  But as I lived there, I also became aware of sounds behind me on the stairs.  There were three sets of stairs in that house and that particular stairway was the only one that “popped.”  Two other tenants who occupied the same “apartment” in the house (at different times) told me that they sometimes heard heavy breathing coming from somewhere in the room. One guy slept with his door open for a week after he heard it the first time.

The creepiest house in New York City, though, was not in Brooklyn.  It was in Manhattan at 14 W. 10th Street.  In the 150 years since the house was built, 27 people have died mysteriously in that house – many were murdered. Mark Twain and his family lived there about a year which is its more positive claim to fame. 

Post by Alana Cash

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


In Brooklyn, as I’ve written before, I lived in a row of 12 houses flanked by “prewar” buildings.  These buildings were an outdoor museum of the skill of masonry.  Every time I went to the store or the subway, I passed magical designs of brickwork that will never be replicated. 

There was a building, reminding me of the fairytale Rapunzel, that had small, decorative circular castle turrets with bricks extending perpendicular to represent steps.  There were buildings with yellow and brown bricks making X’s.  One building had red, brown, and gray bricks placed randomly for a tweed look. 

There was an amazing art deco building with a design of ceramic tiles that still held their color, and between the sections of tile, the bricks were laid at 45 degree angles.  Bricks were graded at the top of the facade, resembling style of the Chrysler building, and the rooftop was decorated with curved wrought-iron cresting.  At either side of the front entryway, there
were large brick and glass cylinders that lit up at night.


Some of the buildings had corridors of pavement leading to the front door or into courtyards where young children could play.  The corridors allowed tenants time to leave the city behind before they reached the front door.  Buildings that opened directly onto the sidewalk had big lobbies providing the same sense of departure from the clamor.

A few buildings had grand names – The Belvedere, Patrician Court and the like. 

The pre-war buildings were not only beautiful on the outside; the same sense of elegance, although faded, was evident inside.  The interior apartment doors opened into foyers, or in the case of smaller apartments, a hallway.  Again this created space between the outside world and the home.  They had hardwood floors, some with parquet borders.  And big sash windows – although a lot of buildings had replaced these with aluminum slide windows.

Because they were rent-controlled, the landlords generally didn’t take good care of them.  Very often elevators were broken.  Pipes leaked.  Lobbies that used to have elegant furniture were empty.  The linoleum floors were cracked and there were 50 coats of lumpy paint on the doorways and interior.     

But the exteriors remained extraordinary, and I could imagine bricklayers laboring all day on hanging platforms, hauling bricks and mortar up on pulleys.  This was before unions, so their wages may not have been worthy of the job they did.  And yet, they must have been proud when they finished their work and saw a monument to their artistry and meticulous skill.

Post by Alana Cash