What is the history and present use of 920 Park Pl at NY Ave?
  • I have always wondered what this big building was originally, and suspected it was once an orphanage. So today I looked it up, and am now sharing it with you.

    Spoiler alert: It was institutional, but not an orphanage.



    photo: bucmh.org

    A. It was built as a home for indigent elderly people in 1889.

    The Methodist Episcopal Home for the Aged was founded on May 10, 1883, by Methodist Church members to provide a comfortable residence for their "indigent" elderly. The first Home was situated on McDonough Street and Stuyvesant Avenue. As a result of the tireless efforts of some 200 women and men from virtually every Methodist Episcopal church in Brooklyn, the number of applicants for admission grew so large that expansion was essential. In 1889, a larger Home was built at 920 Park Place at the corner of New York Avenue. Around 1914, the facility was expanded to include Brown Memorial Chapel.

    http://www.bumch.org/pages/history.htm

    B. In 1976, it stopped being used for that purpose, because the entity constructed a modern nursing home, and moved its operations and residents there.

    http://www.bumch.org/pages/history.htm

    C. It now is presently partially occupied by a private, bilingual elementary school, which is religious in nature: 7th Day Adventist. Many of its students have a Haitian heritage. ...the "bilingual" is French and English.

    http://www.hebronsdabilingual.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=81:hebron-sda-bilingual-tuition&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=97

    According to a guy I talked to, most of the buildings in the complex are connected to each other. However, the school does not use most of the space because it is in a state of disrepair.

    D. It is a massive property. The lot size is255.58 feet x 350 feet

    Land Area: 89,453 sqft

    We are talking about half of a city block. To get an idea of its size, check out the aerial view: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=920+Park+Place,+brooklyn&hl=en&gbv=2&ie=UTF-8


  • Wow, thanks! I also assumed it was an orphanage....


  • Wow, thanks! I also assumed it was an orphanage....


  • It is a beautiful building. It is a shame that most of it is unoccupied, as that lends itself towards further deterioration.

    Thanks for the history lesson.


  • It is a beautiful building. It is a shame that most of it is unoccupied, as that lends itself towards further deterioration.

    Thanks for the history lesson.


  • The building and complex is so large, it would cost a lot of money to keep up.

    I've also done some more thinking and digging on the subject. Here's my progress....

    I suspect three things:

    1. That the home for older adults was not meeting basic codes back in 1970s, and that is part of why they vacated the space.

    2. The building was landmarked as part of the the establishment of the Crown Heights North district, but I haven't done any research on that yet.

    3. That I would get some strange looks if I tried to get a tour of the space that is accessible, under the guise of potentially enrolling my child.

    I've found some more somewhat interesting info about the old age home:

    The Methodist Episcopal Church Home for the Aged and Infirm was established for the care of elderly men and women who were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Home, incorporated on May 10, 1883, sought to provide a comfortable residence for the elderly residents. This included room and board, clothing, employment, medical aid, religious privileges, and a respectable burial upon death.

    Requirements for admittance included that residents must be at minimum 65 years old, have no means of adequate financial support, nor have living relatives who could provide for them. Further, to be admitted, a resident must have been a member, in good standing, of the Methodist Episcopal Church for 10 years, five of which as a member of a Brooklyn Methodist Episcopal Church. Finally, no person could be admitted who had a physical or mental condition, such as insanity or epilepsy, that could be considered detrimental to the interests of the Home. If a person acquired such illnesses after admittance, the Home would find a more appropriate facility for the resident and would bear no further legal responsibility for the care of the person.

    The Home's first location was a rented building on the corner of McDonough Street and Stuyvesant Avenue in what is today the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. When the Home outgrew this facility, a new building was constructed. The new building, designed by Brooklyn architect Mercein Thomas and completed in 1889, was located at Park Place and New York Avenue on the border between today's Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. As of 2010, the building is the home of the Hebron Seventh-day Adventist Bilingual School.

    http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/bhs/arms_1985_102_methodist_episcopal_church_home/arms_1985_102_methodist_episcopal_church_home.html

    I remain curious as to how the property was used between when the old age home left (1976) and when the elementary school arrived (2010). That is a period of 34 years.

    Did it survive the pretty brutal period of Crown Heights (the 1980s and 1990s) without getting homeless/unauthorized people in the property?

    ...are some parts of the property so derelict that homeless and other unauthorized people still find their way in?


  • The building and complex is so large, it would cost a lot of money to keep up.

    I've also done some more thinking and digging on the subject. Here's my progress....

    I suspect three things:

    1. That the home for older adults was not meeting basic codes back in 1970s, and that is part of why they vacated the space.

    2. The building was landmarked as part of the the establishment of the Crown Heights North district, but I haven't done any research on that yet.

    3. That I would get some strange looks if I tried to get a tour of the space that is accessible, under the guise of potentially enrolling my child.

    I've found some more somewhat interesting info about the old age home:

    The Methodist Episcopal Church Home for the Aged and Infirm was established for the care of elderly men and women who were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Home, incorporated on May 10, 1883, sought to provide a comfortable residence for the elderly residents. This included room and board, clothing, employment, medical aid, religious privileges, and a respectable burial upon death.

    Requirements for admittance included that residents must be at minimum 65 years old, have no means of adequate financial support, nor have living relatives who could provide for them. Further, to be admitted, a resident must have been a member, in good standing, of the Methodist Episcopal Church for 10 years, five of which as a member of a Brooklyn Methodist Episcopal Church. Finally, no person could be admitted who had a physical or mental condition, such as insanity or epilepsy, that could be considered detrimental to the interests of the Home. If a person acquired such illnesses after admittance, the Home would find a more appropriate facility for the resident and would bear no further legal responsibility for the care of the person.

    The Home's first location was a rented building on the corner of McDonough Street and Stuyvesant Avenue in what is today the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. When the Home outgrew this facility, a new building was constructed. The new building, designed by Brooklyn architect Mercein Thomas and completed in 1889, was located at Park Place and New York Avenue on the border between today's Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. As of 2010, the building is the home of the Hebron Seventh-day Adventist Bilingual School.

    http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/bhs/arms_1985_102_methodist_episcopal_church_home/arms_1985_102_methodist_episcopal_church_home.html

    I remain curious as to how the property was used between when the old age home left (1976) and when the elementary school arrived (2010). That is a period of 34 years.

    Did it survive the pretty brutal period of Crown Heights (the 1980s and 1990s) without getting homeless/unauthorized people in the property?

    ...are some parts of the property so derelict that homeless and other unauthorized people still find their way in?


  • Whynot, the answer to your last question is no. The school has done a good job of keeping a huge money pit from falling into such disrepair that it becomes a place people attempt to break into. They maintain it and keep the fencing and outer structures in good condition. It is secured and safe for the kids that attend there.

    My understanding is that the church (located on NY Avenue) purchased the property.I know that the school originally opened on Eastern Parkway in the mid-70's, and this site is the second location. It was vacant for a couple of years after the purchase and then they moved the school into the facility. I don't know if anyone had it between the old age home and the church purchase.I'd check your dates because the school was open and operating on Park Place when I purchased in the neighborhood in the early 2000's. The story circulating the neighborhood at that time was that some of the CHNA folks who lived in close proximity became concerned about the state of the school when a tree started growing on the roof, after the school failed to remove some weeds up there. They were able to approach local politicians who worked with the school to get them some help doing maintenance on the building. Sometime around 2002-2004 they did a project to replace the roof, trim trees, clean out the back area (Sterling Street) and replace the playground equipment in the front.

    I know that several years ago CHNA was interested in getting it on the house tour, but that didn't work because the tour was on the Sabbath. My understanding is that its actually a pretty good school and its small size is great for kids who need individualized instruction. After the earthquake in Haiti, the church and school even took in students that relocated to NY be


  • Yes, anytime a tree grows out of the roof it is a bad sign.

    However, I can't say I was worried about safety of the part of the building that is used by the school. The FDNY, Dept of Buildings, and the various entities that inspect private schools have my trust in that regard.

    Yes, I believe that NYC received a lot immigrants after the Haiti earthquake, and that the present school caters to this subset of NYC's Haitian population.

    In light of the circumstances, I imagine/hope that the school is subsidized by donations from outside the Haitian community.

    If CHNA gets this property on its annual house tour, I will go.


  • A friend posted these photos today on her facebook feed. Apparently, the school has an event going on. Note the size of that building...



  • This area had lot of retirement homes. There was another one massive like this where David Chavis is now on Kingston - St Johns/Sterling. Across the street is, to my understanding the first Negro Home in the country.

    Back in the day all the bats from both places would swarm into a Brower Park at night. The one on NY I think there was abandoned for a long while. I still have a drill press we got at the auction when they closed it down in the the 70s. There were also Orphan Homes here to. I think one still stands on Herkimer, not sure tho. Bad memory.


  • Thanks mantic. I think this one might be the most intact of those you mention. It should be interesting to see what happens to the site. As a result of being owned by a church, it is likely exempt from most taxes.

    No one seems to be in any rush.


  • I am just bumping this thread because of the huge development potential this property presents, in light of the escalating prices in the area.

    As readers are aware, a developer has recently successfully purchased a church complex on Rogers, and is in the process of clearing the site for apartments.
  • I hope that it remains a church/school. This neighborhood can't afford to lose good primary schools. 
  • Are the buildings landmarked? If they are, then they must remain the same. Let us hope so, the open space is refreshing.
  • Yes, they are landmarked!
  • My suspicion is that the land is also zoned "Special Use", meaning that a developer would either need to continue to use the buildings as an institution (hospital, school, etc).

    These restrictions are likely behind why much of the property sits dormant.

    ....I wonder if any of the well endowed universities desire a satellite graduate campus.