Planned Gowanus pre-k may be on Battle of Brooklyn site

The toddlers are coming! Historian: Planned pre-K is on mass Revolutionary War grave

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

He has a bone to pick with this pre-school!

The city wants to erect a new Gowanus pre-kindergarten on land where soldiers fought the Battle of Brooklyn more than two centuries ago — and the bodies of hundreds of American heroes may still be buried underneath, claims one Kings County historian.

“It’s known to be an area where the battle of Brooklyn was fought,” said Brooklyn Heights resident Bob Furman, author of “Brooklyn Heights: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of America’s First Suburb” and president of the Brooklyn Preservation Council. “There’s lots and lots of historical evidence and they know about it.”

The School Construction Authority wants to install a 180-seat educational institution for four-year-old scholars on a vacant lot at Ninth Street between Third and Fourth avenues, according to plans it filed last Friday.

But Furman believes that site may be the final resting place of the Maryland 400 — members of the First Maryland Regiment, who were more or less obliterated in a courageous rear-guard action that held off the Red Coats long enough for Gen. Washington to flee with the remnants of the Continental Army.

Furman claims the whole area is full of Revolutionary-era corpses, and he has been itching to dig up the hallowed ground for years.

In May, Furman and his preservation pals petitioned the state to purchase the land and transform it into a commemorative park called Marylander Memorial Park, which earned letters of support from a host of local pols — including Borough President Adams, every Brooklyn member of the Assembly, and several state senators — as well as then-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

But some historians think Furman is as mistaken as Gen. Washington was believing the British would attack from Bay Ridge while they snuck in around the back — the Maryland 400 could be anywhere, said one local expert, and there is no evidence pointing to an empty lot on Ninth Street.

“It seems unlikely there would have been Revolutionary War soldiers buried in that area,” said Kim Maier, executive director at Old Stone House, where many of the Maryland 400 soldiers died and was later reassembled in Park Slope as a museum to memorialize the heroes. “Nothing indicates it is; no primary source documentat­ion.”

Ironically, the proposed school construction could settle the debate once and for all.

If the state finds a prospective school site is of historical significance, it is required to first perform a detailed archeological survey — though a spokesman for the state’s Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation office said it hadn’t determined whether the Ninth Street lot would require such a study, as the School Construction Authority hasn’t submitted its plans yet.

But one local pol said he doesn’t believe there is enough evidence to warrant a time-consuming investigation that could delay the new educational nursery for months in a school district that desperately needs more seats.

“I support the SCA’s plan to move forward, and I don’t believe that further investigation is needed here,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope), who worked with the city to find a location for the new school. “I think what would serve those kids best is to have a school on Ninth Street, where they could go to the Old Stone House and learn about this battle rather than not have any school seats at all.”

Brooklynites can offer the city their opinion on the proposed school until Dec. 13. After that, the Council will vote on the project.

Send your two cents to: New York City School Construction Authority 30–30 Thomson Ave., Long Island City, New York, 11101 Attention: Ross J. Holden

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

jay from nyc says:
The site needs to be properly investigated. If there are U.S. war dead there, then it needs to be designated as a national landmark forever with nothing ever built there, except a proper memorial. Anything else and anything less is a betrayal.
I get that this city is in large part anti-military, but were it not for the Maryland 400, there would literally be no United States. This sacrifice and remembering it matters more.
Nov. 9, 2015, 7:33 pm
Lois from Heights says:
Could Councilman Lander possibly select a more toxic location for the children?
Nov. 9, 2015, 8:58 pm
Thucydides from Gowanus says:
Furman is warm-- and might be hot, only a proper study and excavation can verify. There MIGHT be former slave burials also nearby, a subject few folks care to talk about, i.e. how many place names does Brooklyn have for slaveowners and not one for any slavery-era black person?

I appreciate the work of Kim Maier but there are A LOT of questions about late 18th c., early 19th c. Kings County yet to be answered.
Nov. 10, 2015, 1:20 pm
Jascena Mccrae from Brooklyn says:
Hey everyone, tap in the sign petition area, there is proof that, this is a memorable site. It has landmarks, sketches, and pertinent information about the revolutionary battle. The papers go back to 2012, they know and if we do nothing they will cover it up and put a pre k and the kids will learn on top of history, but they will learn his story. Not ours, speak up, write and push to find our history.
Aug. 5, 2017, 6:05 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: