Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2009 House Tour: 30 8th Avenue

30 8th Avenue is part of a row of flush-front neo-Grec houses from 1881-82, largely developed by owner-architect-builder, J. Doherty, who may have been the same person who built 199 Berkeley Place:

32-30 8th Avenue - Park Slope Historic District

Although it has lost its original front stoop, the house retains the handsome wrought iron cresting at the roofline. Horizontal banding at the basement level unifies the row. The house to the left, at #32, retains the original stoop, balustered handrailings, and newel posts.

Edward R. "Snapper" Garrison

In the late 1880s-early 1890s, this house was the residence of Edward R. "Snapper" Garrison, a "man of the turf", i.e. a horse-racing jockey, who became famous for hanging back during most of the race, only to finish at top speed to achieve a thrilling victory. He became so well-known for this racing style that a contest in which the winner pulls ahead at the last moment to score the victory is known as a "Garrison finish".

"Snapper" Garrison's career seemed bright in 1886 when he married Miss Sadie McMahon, daughter of a prominent Brooklyn judge. In addition to his career as a jockey, Garrison entered into business with his father-in-law, investing in stables and strings of racing horses. The New York Times noted on June 1, 1890, that this stretch of 8th Avenue was known as "Sportsmen's Row" due to the presence of Garrison and other sporting gentlemen.

Alas, by the early '90s, Garrison's business affairs had taken a turn for the worse, and he had had a falling out with his wife's father. The January 2, 1890 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle recounts that "his riches had taken wings", that Garrison was "almost broke", and that his "differences with his father-in-law" had occasioned "no end of talk" in the racing circuit:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 2, 1890, p. 6 ("Is It Impaired?")

Garrison managed to hang onto the house until 1896, when a Brooklyn Eagle article announced a special auction of his entire household effects "sold by the owner, a shining young member of the turf."

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 25, 1896

It must be observed that if one must suffer the embarrassment of having to vacate one's own house in this way, the best time to do it is in late August, when everyone is in the country.

Garrison later became a trainer and "man about the track". In September 30, 1919, the New York Times recounts that "Snapper" Garrison was involved in unpleasantries with a tailor in Ozone Park, Queens, regarding a bill for a two-pants suit:

New York Times, September 30, 1919

Garrison died in Brooklyn in 1930 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.

New York Times, October 29, 1930

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