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Landmarks Commission backs down

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Gravesend’s history is preserved — at least for now.

The Lady Moody house in Gravesend Neck Road between Van Sicklen Street and McDonald Avenue was one of almost 100 sites across the city that the Landmarks Preservation Commission had planned to remove from the calendar for landmark consideration, and one elected official said the public’s outcry helped put the kibosh on the move that would change the course of historical recognition.

“I am pleased that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has decided to postpone indefinitely its Dec. 9 hearing to ‘de-calendar’ nearly 100 historic sites, including the Lady Deborah Moody House in my district,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay). “Many people — including me — found it highly disturbing when the city announced earlier this week that it planned to remove protections from about 100 buildings it had calendared prior to 2011. There was no opportunity for public input and very little notice that a hearing would even take place.”

The Landmark Preservation Commission was planning on removing seven Brooklyn sites from landmark consideration, including the Green-Wood Cemetery — Brooklyn’s largest graveyard — and the Coney Island Pumping Station, which was built in 1938.

The Lady Moody house is named after Deborah Moody, who founded the town of Gravesend in 1643.

Moody left England because its strict Protestant rules clashed with her Anabaptist beliefs, and she heard the Dutch who lived in what is now Brooklyn were more liberal, according to Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger.

But Schweiger cautioned that even though the home is old — it is rumored to be built in the mid-1600s — there is no proof that it was actually her home.

“It is very old — the only stipulation is everyone seems to be calling it the ‘Lady Moody House’ but there is no proof that is hers,” said Schweiger, adding that the house has also been altered extensively. “As far as landmarking the house, it is an old house but the entire exterior of the house has been drastically changed.”

But regardless of the home’s historical relationship to Moody or its renovations, Cymbrowitz said the Landmarks Preservations commission needs to allow for more time to receive the community’s input before it permanently removes any site from consideration.

“This is not the way we operate in this city, and certainly not the way we should treat historic structures that can never be replaced,” he said. “Now, with the hearing postponed, the LPC will have the chance to give the list of sites the attention it deserves. These are not decisions to be made unilaterally or in haste.”

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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