Photo of the Week: Hunterfly Road Houses

[Hunterfly Road Houses], 1922, v1987.11.2; Eugene L. Armbruster photograph and scrapbook collection, v1987.011; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Hunterfly Road Houses], 1922, v1987.11.2; Eugene L. Armbruster photograph and scrapbook collection, v1987.011; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The photo of the week depicts Hunterfly Road Houses in 1922, the last remaining structures of the Weeksville community, part of the present-day Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Weeksville was founded in 1838, and named after James Weeks, a former slave from Virginia, who was an early investor and resident of the community.  It quickly became a thriving community of black landowners, reaching 521 residents in 1855. Land ownership was particularly important to black New Yorkers because at the time, New York State’s constitution required men of color to own $250 worth of property to be able to vote. No property requirements existed for white New Yorkers.

After they were rediscovered in the 1960s, the Hunterfly Road Houses were designated New York City landmarks in 1970. To learn more about this history, you can visit the Weeksville Heritage Center which just opened a new exhibition titled Weeksville: Transforming Community/In Pursuit of Freedom, part of a public history project in partnership with Brooklyn Historical Society and Irondale Ensemble Project that explores the heroes of Brooklyn’s abolitionist movement. You can also visit Brooklyn Historical Society’s sister exhibition, Brooklyn Abolitionsists/In Pursuit of Freedom  on display through 2018.

The photo of the week is from the Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbook collection that comprises seven scrapbooks and several hundred photographs taken by Armbruster during late 19th century and early 20th century Brooklyn. Armbruster was an amateur photographer and historian, who was interested in historic infrastructure; particularly those he believed were at risk of being destroyed. Thanks to a generous grant from Gerry Charitable Trust, Brooklyn Historical Society is digitizing and cataloging all seven scrapbooks from this collection. To see more photographs form this collection, check out this gallery.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

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