CLAY STREET SIGN

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Russian People’s Home of Greenpoint, 106 Clay Street off McGuinness Boulevard. This is either an old sign of great age, or may have been part of a movie set that was never removed. Most non-English signs in Greenpoint are in Spanish or Polish.

¬†At one time, there was a sizable Slavic population in Greenpoint. In addition to Poles, there were Slovaks and Russians. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration, on Driggs and N. 12th St., and Holy Family Slovak (Catholic Church) on the corner of Nassau Ave. and N. 15th St., attest to the number of Slovaks and Russians who lived here…–Joe Fliel, in Comments

What do the book and the torch symbolize?

12/13/12





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6 Responses to CLAY STREET SIGN

  1. Nash Drovya says:

    I am thinking that the symbols are emblems of enlightenment, education and learning.

  2. Joe Fliel says:

    Actually, this building is off McGuinness Blvd. It’s not a movie prop. It’s been there for over 90 years. At one time, there was a sizable Slavic population in Greenpoint. In addition to Poles, there were Slovaks and Russians. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration, on Driggs and N. 12th St., and Holy Family Slovak (Catholic Church) on the corner of Nassau Ave. and N. 15th St., attest to the number of Slovaks and Russians who lived here (“here”, because it’s my neighborhood). The Greenpoint Slovak-American Social Club is still in full operation on Manhattan Ave., next to the nar on the corner. The building itself, and the two to the left, date from the 1870s. A old friend of mine, who grew up and lived in the building on the southeast corner of Clay and Manhattan Ave., said that the sign was on that building when he was a kid, in the early 1950s. He recently tried to buy the sign from the owner. The owner (a Russian) told him to go to hell, no sale.

    • John Dereszewski says:

      In addition to the churches named in this comment, you should also note the former St. Elias Eastern rite Catholic Church, which until recently existed in a wonderful building – actually a former Methodist Church – on Kent St., just west of Manhattan Ave. There is also another Eastern Rite Church – I forget the name – that still exists in the Northside – I believe on North 5th St. My mother’s father was a parishioner at St. Elias and I fondly remember attending several services there.

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  4. Joe Fliel says:

    The name is “Russkii Narordniy Dom” (rough transliteration) which translates to “Russian National Home”. Contrary to what some people have posted on other sites, this place wasn’t used by Russian Jews who immigrated and settled in Greenpoint. Interestingly, Eastern European Jews settled mainly on, and around Engert Ave., formerly Van Pelt Avenue, and surrounding streets. They absolutely never considered themselves “Russian”. They never felt comfortable rubbing elbows with Russian Orthodox Christians or Polish Catholics considering that they were refugees of pogroms in their old communities in the Russian Empire. The Russian National Home was a contemporary (ca. 1905) of the Polish National Home on Driggs Ave. and provided the immigrants with a way to maintain their cultural heritage. The Russians started to move into Williamsburg in the late 1910s-early 1920s, thinning out the population in Greenpoint. There were still some second and third generation Russian families in Greenpoint in the 1960s; but, most of them are now gone; the grouchy owner of 106 Clay St. excluded.

  5. George Balabushka says:

    The club was in full operation until, at least, the early to mid 70s. It was the home of the Russian Folk Dancing Group called YULA (Founded by the late Freddie Klimovich). The group practiced there on Friday nights, as well as put on occasional performances there for special dinners.

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