Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Things Get Curiouser: Underground Railroad House Up for Sale?

May 25th, 2007 · 1 Comment

The tale of the houses on Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn said to have been part of the Underground Railroad, has taken another very, very curious turn. One of the homes–the one in which Joy Chatel, one of the leaders of the fight to stop the seizure of the buildings via eminent domain and to prevent their demolition, resides–is apparently on the market for $4.5 million.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s Sarah Ryley reports on the listing:

The “Downtown Brooklyn Prime Location” — an eight-bedroom, four-bathroom, semi-detached home with a store and the right to build up to 20 stories high — has been listed with RE/MAX for three weeks, and was updated this week with a photograph. But nobody seems to agree on who put the property up for sale.

The home’s occupant, Joy Chatel, has spent the last three years of her life trying to prove that the residence was once a stop along the Underground Railroad in the hopes of saving it from the wrecking ball, and dozens of activists and elected officials have joined in.

Chatel says she wants to turn her home into a museum, but the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has plans to put an entryway for a parking garage in its place. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development held a hearing Tuesday on the property and 20 others on three blocks in Downtown Brooklyn.

Chatel doesn’t own the home she’s been living in for over a decade, which would make it difficult for her to fight an eminent domain ruling. She signed the deed over to her mother in 2004, and her mother, Arnelda Monroe, gave outside investor Errol Bartholomew 50 percent ownership of the property the following year to stave off foreclosure proceedings…Chatel said last week that her attorney, Angelyn Johnson, listed the property without asking, and suggested that Bartholomew was involved…

Johnson, who maintains a law practice on Court Street, was charged in February by the Queens District Attorney’s Office as part of a six-person deed fraud ring, and is still under investigation for other frauds she may have committed, according to the office.

We’d say that the story couldn’t possibly get any more bizarre, but something tells us that it will.

Tags: Downtown Brooklyn · Duffield Street · Eminent Domain

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 lurline // May 25, 2007 at 8:56 am

    I hope Underground Railroad
    status can be proven.