THE French Renaissance Grand Prospect Hall, 263 Prospect Avenue just south of 5th Avenue in Park Slope, was familiar to NYC viewers from its ubiquitous commercials: “We make your dreams come true!” It was constructed as a grand banquet hall in 1892 by John Kolle, who hired Ulrich J. Huberty, the architect of Prospect Park’s Tennis House and Litchfield Villa. The interior was indeed ornate. William Jennings Bryan, Enrico Caruso, Lena Horne, Fred Astaire and Al Capone were all patrons; the Jack Nicholson vehicle Prizzi’s Honor was filmed here. The Hall was under the ownership of Michael & Alice Halkias from 1982-2020, and the couple appeared in the commercials.
Despite its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, that is an honorific only and is no protection against the desires of developers. In 2020, the Halkias family sold the Hall to developer Angelo Rigas, who quickly set about razing the building. Before the sale went through, the Halkias family had auctioned off the lush interior furnishings. Michael Halkias passed away from coronavirus complications in 2020.
Andrew Dolkart, a professor of historic preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, told me that Prospect Hall had been on the landmarks commission’s radar since the nineteen-seventies, when he worked for the commission, “but it just never got done.” [New York Magazine]
My relationship with the building was strictly tangential. I’ve never been inside, but I was once invited to a wedding here–and the invitation was later rescinded, when the bride explained she had gone over budget and had to pare the guest list! As it happened I was in Park Slope the day of the wedding and went by Prospect Hall in a friend’s car and saw her in her gown outside the building! (The newlyweds, who moved to New Hampshire decades ago, later had me over for dinner as a consolation prize.)
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Catering halls have seen a drop in wedding business over the past several years. Big splashy weddings with all the trimmings are somewhat out of fashion.
Big splashy weddings aren’t out of fashion – it’s the. catering halls that are out of fashion. The big, splashy weddings are now taking place in barns, or gardens.
Weddings are a thing of the past. Look what happened to David’s Bridal. Many other bridal stores await the same fate.
Does anyone else remember the televised boxing matches sponsored by Gilette broadcast live from Grand Prospect Hall? In an interview actor Tony Danza says he once boxed there. You’ll look sharp…ding!…
I got a full tour in 1982 when Mike Halkias first bought it. Bowling alley, several small private rooms, and other rooms never opened to the public.
The loss of this building is 100% due to NYC Landmarks Preservation’s shameful inaction.
I too saw the TV spots my whole life, and was lucky to attend a City of Gods Halloween party (which held their annual event there for over a decade) in 2019. The party was a $200 per ticket psuedo baccanale, which I received a comp in exchange for some freelance work. I’m glad I got to see the inside of the facility as it was an incredible place — mostly breathtaking, only a little ostentatious. It should have been landmarked, but instead goes the way of the Flushing RKO and so much of NYC’s character.
I went to several events at the Grand Prospect Hall. Architecturally, the interior was magnificent. But the Halkias Family clearly scored a deal when it came to all the gold paint. Their decorative enhancements were uniquely hideous — no-class tackiness advertised as “High Class.” But at least they kept the building standing.
In 1898, an ancestor of mine was a guest speaker at an event held at the Hall. I still have an old programme from the event, and wonder what he thought of the place, back when it was brand new.
I went to Google Street View to see location, and graffiti on green-painted wood boards proclaims “GOD IS GOOD”, “GOD IS GREAT”, ” JESUS LOVES US”.
My wife and I went to see the Hall when we were planning our special day. The owners didnt flinch that we were a Lesbian couple. It was a bit overdone to our tastes. We were trying to support our great Park Slope neighborhood. We chose instead the manison, at Ethical Culture, on Prospect Park West. There is an outside garden, Tiffany windows, beautiful place. I am sad to see the Hall gone. So sad.
I went to a synagogue dinner there many years ago. It was somewhat dowdy inside. Faded glory.
I attended a retirement dinner there about 20 years ago (not my own). The event was in mid-afternoon and so they only opened up the bar that was just off the lobby (no booze was served). I got the feeling that they had some sort of price list for, which room, how large of a party, and at what time of day, and an afternoon event was the cheapest no-frills kind. Not that “cheap” was what the committee was going for (time of day was the main consideration).
(Food was actually pretty good for the kind of place it was.)
If it can happen to that place,then it can happen to Leonards of Great Neck too.
Leonards needs landmark status protection so it cant suffer the same fate.
The GPH’s french birdcage elevator was cool. It was the first electric elevator in Brooklyn NY.
I wonder if someone saved it.
What happened to the war memorial that was on the property.? Where did it go
Grand Prospect Hall’s “bird cage elevator” was really cool. It was the first electric elevator in Brooklyn NY. I
wonder if someone rescued it before the demolition.
The one time I was there was for a wedding as an usher for a friend of mine. Must be 20 years ago now. When we sat down the table and bread was served, there was no butter. When we asked if we could get some, the answer was a succinct ‘no’. Shortly thereafter jelly was provided instead. When I and the other ushers brought this to the groom’s attention, butter was quickly provided in droves. But I never forgot the ‘no’,
Now that it no longer exists,what happened to the bronze plaque
out front?Tossed into a dumpster?
As with the plaque on the Kings County Savings Bank building on Bedford Ave. & Broadway and possibly the one on the former Greenpoint Savings Bank on Manhattan
Ave., stolen and sold for their scrap value.
I worked for Michael Halkias in 2019. He was an evil man who called his all-black kitchen staff “monkeys” and “slaves,” and cheated his servers out of every penny he could. No great loss there.
THAT TALKING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE STUFF THAT WAS USED AT VARIOUS PLACES, I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE BRONZE PLAQUES THAT WERE INSTALLED ON THE WESTSIDE HIGHWAY STARTING FROM CHAMBER STREET TO WEST 59 STREET?
SOME ONE FROM THE DEMOLITION COMPANY MUST HAVE TAKEN THEM HOME OR SOLD THEM FOR THEIR BRONZE CONTENT, THAT WAS A BIG TICKET ITEM AND SOMEONE MADE A LOT OF MONEY FROM THOSE BRONZE PLAQUES.