Neighboorhood boasts 'World’s only Greek Revival subway ventilator'
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 2013 Willowtown Spring Fair brought neighbors together on Saturday for a mellow day of music, food, sack races, tug-of-war and an architectural walking tour.
A boat with eight oars docked in the middle of Willow Street drew attention to a “boating adventure” raffle prize, and the old-fashioned jazz of Mona’s Hot Four had people dancing in the street. Iris Cafe and Waterfront Wine and Spirits provided food and drinks, and volunteers from Mickel’s Garden, led by Melissa Neel, sold plants to fund a new greenhouse and other garden improvements.
The annual event raises money for the Willowtown Association’s community projects, such as tree planting and upkeep, but it’s also a celebration of the continuing existence of the historic enclave at the southwestern edge of Brooklyn Heights.
A self-guided tour pointed out architectural gems -- a number saved, by the efforts of the Willowtown Association and the Brooklyn Heights Association, from Robert Moses’ wrecking ball in the 1950s.
Many of the houses in Willowtown date from the 1840s, including four sharing a continuous portico of tall wooden columns at the southern end of Willow Place, and four clapboard frame and brick houses in “Cottage Row” at the northern end of Columbia Place. The A.T. White Community Center on Willow Place dates from 1867.
Willowtown also boasts “the world’s only Greek Revival subway ventilator” at 58 Joralemon Street and the former Metropolitan Transportation Authority substation at 21 Willow Place.
Today the Willowtown Association, with a 12-member board under President Ben Bankson, remains active in community affairs. As a member of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition, the group works to mitigate the park’s potential negative impact on Willowtown’s traffic, noise and views.
The board endorsed renaming the Palmetto Playground the Adam Yauch Playground; convinced the MTA to repair the roadbed for the subway under Joralemon Street, and fought the Riverside apartment’s move to replace the building’s historic garden with a parking garage.