Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Thursday, July 9, 2009

In Memoriam: Louis Bonert

We conclude our review of the work of prolific Park Slope builder Louis Bonert with a glimpse into his personal life.

Bonert maintained a country residence in Sayville, Long Island. In 1908 his 25-year-old daughter Lucille was driving a car that was struck by a Long Island Rail Road train at an unguarded Sayville crossing, and was permanently injured. Lucille sued the LIRR and was awarded $10,000 in damages in 1910:

Louis Bonert, toward the end of his life, and having done so much to create the built environment of Park Slope, actually moved into one of his own buildings, a fine townhouse at 625 Second Street in the park block:

625-627 2nd Street, Park Slope Historic District

Bonert built this house, designed by architects Eisenla and Carlson, in 1908, as part of a longer row. This house was Bonert's residence at the time of his death, at 74, on May 15, 1916:

New York Times, May 17, 1916, p. 11 ("Died")
Park Congregational Church
- unprotected

The building, whose history we hope to recount in a later post, dates to 1870 and is now hemmed in closely by buildings on both sides.

It was Louis Bonert, careful readers will recall, who sold the land on which another Lutheran church, St. Matthews English, now stands at 6th Avenue and 2nd Street in Park Slope:

St. Matthews English Lutheran Church - unprotected

Louis Bonert died intestate, a situation that unfortunately precipitated a legal battle between his widow, Louisa, and his daughter Lucille, who was appointed "administratrix" of the estate. Although Bonert was deemed a wealthy man in life, apparently his estate was reduced to virtually nothing by the claims of creditors, taxes, and administrative fees, prompting Bonert's widow Louisa to mount a lawsuit against her own daughter Lucille:

But let us draw the curtain on this unfortunate family squabble. We prefer to remember Bonert as the man who build so many fine buildings in Park Slope.

We recall our Greek philosophy professor, quoting Alfred North Whitehead, saying that all Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. In the same way, It can almost be said that the development of Park Slope, at least along 6th Avenue and side streets in the central Slope, is a series of "footnotes to Louis Bonert".

1 comment:

ChickenUnderwear said...

Thanks for the tour.

Understanding how one person was responsible for building most of the neighborhood gave me a different perspective of the streets I walk every day.