by Kevin Walsh

Just barely readable on this peak-roofed brick building on Steuben Street, across from Steuben Park at the BQE, are the words “Wm.B.A. Jurgens” and above it “Brooklyn 1898” which is likely the date it was built.

Presuming no relation to Curt Jurgens, the German-born actor who bounced back from his experience at a concentration camp in Nazi Germany to appear in over 100 films, including as Roger Moore’s evil mastermind opponent in The Spy Who Loved Me. Or maybe there is a relation.

Forgotten fan Karen Wagner has researched Jurgens:

“[William B.A. Jurgens] first shows up on the 1880 census living on Boerum St. with his wife Christina. He was born in Hanover, Germany in 1838/1839, came to the US in 1864 and was a ‘wholesale grocer’. By 1900 he owned the house at 924 Bushwick Ave. and looks like he died sometime before 1920. In 1892, according to the NY Times, a fire destroyed Wm B.A. Jurgens Grocery house at the corner of Flushing and Ryerson St. It says it was built in 1887.” Apparently Jurgens was Brooklyn’a largest wholesale grocer in the early 20th Century.

An obituary found at Frank Jump’s Fading Ads indicated that Jurgens died in February 1918 at age 57 [sic].

NYC eliminated many German-sounding street names during the WWI era, but not Steuben Street, named for Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730-1764) the Prussian military officer who aided George Washington at Valley Forge training and drilling troops, despite not being familiar with English; he was persuaded to assist in the revolution by Benjamin Franklin in Paris.

Steuben is also remembered by routes in the Bronx and Staten Island.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



John Ulrich October 8, 2020 - 2:46 pm

The German American society of the NYPD is also named the Steuben Society in his honor and service to the American Revolution.

John Ulrich October 8, 2020 - 2:50 pm

The date of his death is obviously a typo

Zalman Lev October 9, 2020 - 8:51 am

Actually, it says “Erec’d 1898” on the facade, not “Brooklyn 1898”, so yes, built in 1898. Also, looks like there is an umlaut over the U!


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