THERE I was, half crazy from the heat and humidity, stumbling around Carroll Gardens on a July weekday, yet another neighborhood that because of income disparity I had no business being in. I had wandered all the way down Court, got past the gauntlet at Hamilton Avenue with its pedal-to-the-metal truck traffic, tiptoed past the Red Hook Houses, slipped past the Hamilton gauntlet once again (all this will turn up on a FNY page eventually) and was heading back up Henry toward the Clark Street station to catch the #2 or 3, when I happened past an artifact I can rarely resist taking a photo of at Henry and Rapelye.
It’s this simple peaked brick building, originally the St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, organized in 1872 in a neighborhood then called South Brooklyn because it was literally in the southern end of the City of Brooklyn when built. Real estate developers bestowed the Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens names in the Super Seventies. The building itself went up in 1878 and services were held here until the 1940s or so; it was still a church when this photo was taken in 1940.
Check out the faded painted sign on the clerestory window…for the Luso-American Cultural Center. You’ve heard of the Lusitania, the passenger liner sunk by a German submarine in the Atlantic in 1915. The Lusitani, or the Lusitanians, were an Indo-European people residing on the western section of the Iberian peninsula conquered by the Romans. After the fall of the Empire and invasions by and expulsions of the Moors over the ensuing millennia, the peninsula sorted itself out into the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal. It’s possible that Lisboa, or Lisbon, is also a derivative of the name.
In the early 20th Century, Portuguese immigrants were streaming into the NYC area, along with other nationalities, to take the many jobs available when NYC still had seaside ports. This served as sort of a cultural clubhouse. I’m not sure if it’s defunct in 2021, but in 2011, Brooks of Sheffield at Lost City was able to get in during a gathering of some kind.
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