Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day's Avena, 6th Avenue & 9th Street

Okay, folks, we have some winners to announce regarding the mysterious public hall at 9th Street and 6th Avenue.

Day's Avena Hall, 9th Street & 6th Avenue, s w corner

We knew from our last post that the building was constructed in 1892 as a public hall by Edward P. Day, to plans by architect Walter H. C. Hornum. What we didn't know was the name of the building.

Sharp-eyed commenter John Casson found the following Brooklyn Eagle citation that yields the name "Arvena" for this building; the Eagle notes that the word derives from a Greek term for "place of assemblage." Congratulations and thanks for this great find, John!:

Brooklyn Eagle, October 16, 1892, p. 2 ("A New Amusement Hall")

Meanwhile, independently from John's work, we happened across a further clue while researching Columbia Hall. Apparently a "Professor J. O. E. Small" conducted dancing classes at both Columbia Hall and at Day's building, on alternate evenings. However, "Professor" Small's advertisement refers to Day's building as "Day's Avena," dropping the 'r':

Apparently "Day's Avena" is the name that came into common usage. The Eagle lists all the usual fraternal and sororal associations meeting at "Day's Avena" (not "Arvena") in the final decade of the 19th century.

So, congratulations are also due to Professor J. O. E. Small, dancing instructor, for his role in helping to resolve the mystery of "Day's Avena:"

Day's Avena Hall
Edward P. Day, owner
Walter H. C. Hornum, architect - 1892

At least now we know what the building was called. Yet another mystery regarding this building arises: what are those symbols inside the pediment on the 6th Avenue facade? Are they Masonic? There is some Eagle evidence that Edward P. Day was a Mason. Is that the letter 'C', and if so what if anything does it mean? Inquiring minds want to know!:

Detail - Day's Avena


Ben said...

The compass is a symbol commonly used by the freemasons. That's my bet.

R. Edebohls said...

Thank for featuring this building - I have been curious about it for years! I had wanted to do an article about it for the Gowanus Lounge when it was still in existence. I always believed it was a Masonic Hall because of the Masonic symbol beneath the cornice. I believe the letter is a G, not a C, common when this symbol is used and standing for "God".