The Brooklyn Preservation Council already is compiling a list of sites in Brooklyn to commemorate and landmark, even as it is in the process of establishing itself as a nonprofit foundation.
Formed earlier this year, the Brooklyn Preservation Council (BPC) aims to provide education and assistance to civic organizations and community boards in Brooklyn seeking to preserve tracts of land through government action.
The meetings, held monthly, are open to the public and individuals can discuss their ideas about changing the land use for specific areas of land they want to preserve.
Representatives from the Carroll Gardens Association, Between Buildings, the Committee to Save the Green Church, the South Williamsburg Historical Society, the Bay Ridge Community Council, and the Brooklyn College History Department have attended BPC meetings this past year.
As the BPC board passed its bylaws and discussed incorporation at its June meeting, members discussed their plans for commemorating Columbus Park, the front yard of the former County Courthouse and Hall of Records, which were demolished in 1960. The area was the heart of downtown Brooklyn, with the Brooklyn Eagle building, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and Ebbets Field all located nearby. Remnants of the park in the form of closed streets that still exist as walkways, peak out amid the bustle of Cadman Plaza.
“Fulton Street was a very dynamic area and it was town down in the 1940s and 1950s when the neighborhood was deteriorating,” said Robert Furman, president of the Brooklyn Preservation Council and a member of the Carroll Gardens Association. “If Brooklyn was saved, it was saved by Brownstones which brought the middle class back and stabilized the community.”
Furman and other members of the Brooklyn Preservation Council hope to commemorate Columbus Park by marking ornamental street signs which represent closed streets such as Myrtle Avenue and Fulton Street and establishing signage noting the sites of the former Brooklyn Theater, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ front office and the old County Courthouse.
“What downtown Brooklyn was in the old days should be commemorated,” Furman said. “There are three different sorts of cities that existed in the same site in the center. We should at least note that these streets were there.”
A cemetery near Pierpont and Liberty streets, which is no longer present, also drew the curiosity of Furman and the board members. Students from Brooklyn College will be researching the origins and story of the cemetery in the coming months, to discover what happened to the bodies that were exhumed from the site.
“Who was buried there? What happened? We ought to honor what we used to be,” said Furman.
The BPC is also looking ahead, now that it has received several small grants for the launch of a landmark survey for expanding Carroll Gardens. Councilmember Bill de Blasio as well as State Senators Martin Connor and Marty Golden have contributed a total of $14,500 for the survey.
In the meantime, the BPC is contemplating how to raise money for future studies, register properly with city and state agencies, and reach out to and individuals and community groups looking to preserve the neighborhoods where they work and live.
For more information about the Brooklyn Preservation Council, call 917-648-4043 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.