Monday, June 04, 2012

An Old Ticket Reveals A Bit Of Carroll Gardens' Italian Past

The former Paris Palace at 292-294 Court Street (today's Amico Child Care)
While renovating our old Carroll Gardens brownstone, my husband and I found many artifacts from the past. Apart from the glass marbles and broken bits of china unearthed in the garden, we came across some great items such as a small wooden ruler, a yellowed letter from 1890 addressed to a long ago resident of the house, old newspapers under layers of linoleum and perhaps, one of my favorites, an empty bottle of gin that was well hidden between a small space between the roof beams.

Similarly, Reader Stephen just found an old ticket from 1925 to the "Primo Annuale Ballo" in his house. It offers a cool glimpse into the neighborhood's Italian-American past. In an email, Jess wrote:
"Nine years after we bought our home on 4th Place, we are finally getting ready for major construction, turning the house back into a one family home where we can raise our three kids. One of the most exciting parts of the whole process is seeing what pieces of the past we uncover.Last week we removed the pier mirror in the parlor floor, sending it off for restoration. Look what I found hiding behind it. I have no doubt that 87 years ago the mirror was a bit wobbly and someone tore up this ticket to steady it! What a wonderful glimpse into life in the neighborhood back then.
I am so curious about the history of our house, and the families that lived there before us. If I find anything else interesting I'll send it on to you."I knew that the Paras Palace mentioned on the ticket still stands at 292-294 Court Street. It was once a movie theatre which belonged to the Scotto Family. The theatre had a big open space on the second floor which was used for various celebrations by the community."
 Eager to find out more about the 1925 ball and the Society behind it, I sent of the photo to John Heyer II,
lifelong neighborhood resident and the parish historian for Sacred Hearts - St. Stephen's Church. Over the last few years, John has tirelessly worked to collect and preserve unique documents pertaining to the oldest Italian parish in Brooklyn.
He immediately wrote back:
"This is a very exciting find, for a local Italian archivist at least.
You are correct that this event was held in the hall of the Paris Court movie theater. The group was a social organization made up of immigrants from Sicily's 2nd largest city, Catania, and it's surrounding towns within the province. I checked with the Federation of Italian American Organizations and they have no current registration for this group still existing today. Church records also do not show any feasts or activities from the group...I will, however, check my collection of church journals to see if the group ever placed ads in one. most of the Italian societies often did this and the ads often show the address of the organization and when it was founded."
I asked John about the confusion over the name 'Paris Theatre', as I had seen it spelled Parus or, as on this ticket, Paras. Heyer explained:
"It's the same place with an Italian twist on the name...the name never changed just the people reading the sign above the door."

Can't wait to find out what else Stephen finds during his renovation. Thanks for sharing this and thanks to John Heyer for the historic background.

If anyone else has come across some cool item from the past, shoot me an email and send me your photos.


Anonymous said...

Nice that people care about the history of CG. Most don't.
There is that guy who excavates old cisterns and out houses in the backyards of Brooklyn row houses. Lots of forensic fantasies: marbles,Tobacco pipes et al. from long ago.

Anonymous said...

I always suspected that this building was a theatre of some kind. Been wondering about for the past 15 years that i have lived here. Thanks for uncovering the mystery! irmaonsackett

Mrs. G said...

Greetings Katia,

I LOVE this stuff! Thanks for posting. Can't wait to hear more, see more!!

Anonymous said...

Many theatres in the hood. The gas station across from F train was one, too.