By Paula Katinas
BAY RIDGE — Giulia Melucci said she’s never going to drive down Ridge Boulevard again.
“Too painful,” she said.
Passing the corner of Ridge and 77th Street would be particularly difficult these days for Melucci, a writer, because she would look up and see a walled-up construction pit where her beautiful home used to be.
Melucci, whose memoir I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti was published in 2009, grew up in a house at 7624 Ridge Boulevard. Situated on a hill, the three-story, one-family dwelling, which was built in 1905, was the foundation of many wonderful childhood memories for Melucci and her four siblings. Backyard barbecues, kitchen table gabfests, and other family events are part of the fabric of memory for them.
The Melucci family sold the house 20 years ago.
The property is now the focus of a controversy. The house was torn down earlier this month, despite the fact that the Department of Buildings (DOB) had not approved a demolition. There is no permit on record for a demolition, according to city officials.
In fact, the DOB only granted permission for interior renovations of the century-old house, officials said.
It’s not clear why the entire building was torn down when the plans called for a renovation.
Local officials were shocked that the demolition took place. After an inspector took a look at the property, DOB issued a “stop work” order on Jan. 9 to prohibit any further action, according to the agency’s web site.
Melucci’s brother Matthew, CEO of Pulse Digital Media LLC, an internet company, says he’s also shocked by the turn of events.
“I heard from a friend that the house had been torn down. We drove down to see it,” Matthew, who lives in Connecticut, said. “It’s definitely shocking. It makes you reflect on what was there.”
Bay Ridge housing preservationists, who said they lament the demise of yet another piece of the community’s history, are mourning the fate of the house.
But for the Meluccis, it’s more personal than that.
“I grew up in the house,” Giulia Melucci, who now lives in Park Slope, told the Eagle. “I was taken home from the hospital as a newborn to that house. It was such a beautiful house and the fact that it’s no longer there is terrible. And it was torn down just like that. I find it very heartbreaking.”
The house at 7624 Ridge Boulevard was one of only three homes on the block of Ridge Boulevard between 76th and 77th Streets, Melucci recalled. The houses were all large, with enough room for sprawling families, she said.
“I have a lot of great memories of living in that house,” Matthew Melucci said. “We spent a lot of years there. We had a lot of barbecues.”
When Giulia Melucci was asked to share her memories of growing up in the house on the corner, she mentioned the holiday season.
“People in Bay Ridge may remember our Christmas manger,” she said.
The Melucci family’s crèche, which they placed on their front lawn every holiday season, was one of the largest in the neighborhood.
One of Matthew and Giulia’s sisters visited the house a few years ago. The owners at the time allowed her to come inside to take a look at her former home. Melucci said it pains her that something like that can never happen again for anyone in her family because the house is gone.
“It’s not just my family’s loss,” she said. “Bay Ridge is losing all of its great old houses. The neighborhood is losing part of its history, part of what makes it unique.”
“I’m more angry than anything else,” Matthew Melucci said. “I know that it was a solid house. It was built well. It had a solid foundation. There was no reason to tear it down. You’re tearing down something that was historic. The tragedy is that the house is gone.”