November 2, 2012, Friday, 306

History and mysteries unveiled by owners

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The mansion that is still up today is definitely a reminder of the time when Bay Ridge was a vacation spot for wealthy New Yorkers, including merchants, businessmen, politicians and celebrities. In fact, the original owners of this residence, the Jones, were wealthy shipping merchants.

It is a two-story, six-bedroom house that was designed in the Arts and Crafts style, a rarity in the city, according to Lisi de Bourbon, a spokesperson for the city Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Home is made up of boulders, and has a roof that looks like thatch but is actually asphalt. It was the home's unique architectural style that earned its landmark status. One of Brooklyn's official borough historians even says that it looks like it would be a house on the countryside of England, and that there is nothing quite like it in New York City.

Jerry Fishman, the current owner, says that the house was actually a cottage house to a larger, pink, Mediterranean-style mansion that was across the street on Narrows Avenue. That mansion was torn down in the 1950s or 1960s, and five homes now stand in its place. Fishman is not an easy person to get an interview with, in fact, the family doesn't even open the door for curious and eager trick-or-treaters on Halloween. During a rare interview, he said that the larger estate belonged to the father of the household, and the gingerbread house belonged to the son.

He and his wife, Diane, bought the house in 1985, but he has his eye set on it much earlier than that.Since he grew up one block away from the house, and attended high school right across from it, he said that he was going to live there. Fishman said the fascination with his home, which became an official city landmark in 1989, extends far beyond Brooklyn and even beyond New York City. He once received a newspaper clipping from Prague, which listed it as one of the 10 most beautiful places in the world.

There are a few rumors that Fishman took care of about his house.There is indeed an original turning platform in the garage — to turn a parked car around, so it wouldn't have to be backed out of the garage — but it no longer works. He also mentions that there is no bowling alley in the basement (that's another mansion in the neighborhood).

"This was the playground for the rich and famous of Manhattan — where they came to be in the country," Fishman said. "Great mansions were always here in Bay Ridge, but unfortunately, they all have come down because of the price of land." Beginning in the 1930s and '40s, developers starting coming into Shore Road and tearing the mansions down and building apartments in their place. [1]


In front you can see a bluestone plate used for passengers to alight from carriages in the days before the streets were paved.