Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Herman Behr Residence in Brooklyn Heights

Called by the New York Times "the city's finest Romanesque Revival house," the 1890 Herman Behr Residence at 82 Pierrepont Street, designed by Frank Freeman, has quite the history.

According to the Boston Globe, the residence has been at various times the Palm Hotel, a bordello, the Franciscan House of Studies, and a condo. Rumor has it that the top floor is haunted.

Herman Behr was an industrial magnate (Herman Behr &. Co., manufacturers of abrasives); he was married to Grace Howell. They named their son Karl Howell Behr (born May 30, 1885). According to Encyclopedia-Titanica, Karl was admitted to the bar in 1910. He was also a well known tennis star -- Behr, with partner Beals C. Wright, was a runner-up in the 1907 Wimbledon men's doubles championship.

Karl Behr boarded the Titanic as a first class passenger. He was pursuing Helen Monypeny Newsom, whose mother had taken Miss Newsom on a "Grand Tour" of Europe to separate the two lovers. But Behr invented a business trip to Europe and arranged to book passage on the Titanic for his return to America.

On the night the Titanic sank, Behr joined Helen and others on the starboard boat deck. A Mr. Bruce Ismay was urging passengers into a lifeboat. A female member of Behr's party stepped forward and asked if they could all go together, and Ismay replied, "Of course, madam, every one of you." As a result, Karl Behr and his friends were rescued in Boat 5.

About a year after the sinking, Karl (who later became a banker) and Miss Newsom were married in the Church of the Transfiguration. The couple had four children, including Karl H. Behr Jr. (who founded and was president of Converter's Ink Company in Linden, N.J., now a division of Beatrice Foods Company). Karl, Jr. lived until 2002, reaching the age of 88.

Karl, Jr. had four daughters, as well as ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

UPDATE: Brooklyn Heights' Herman Behr Mansion for Sale
UPDATE2: The mansion has been SOLD.

Photo by MK Metz


I Love White Rice said...

I live in this building. What an interesting history!

bj said...

I pass by it every day and admire the gargoyles. What's it like on the inside?

Anonymous said...

Many years ago a friend of mine lived on the 4th or 5th floor. She told me that when she and he friends walked through an upstairs hallway, they often felt an icy cold sensation. Maybe that was the ghost!

jerome said...

The Brooklyn Public Library has digitized many articles from the Brooklyn Eagle. The original 1890 article about this house may be found at http://www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/eagle/

Search for herman AND Behr

or directly here(remove the hard breaks and reglue the address together):


I Love White Rice said...

BJ, it's really nice inside. All of the apartments are different since they carved them out of a single mansion. I live in a duplex with a spiral staircase and in the lobby there's a library where everyone shares books.