Monday, April 03, 2017

A Carroll Gardens Life: Before It Was Paul Manafort's Investment Property, 377 Union Street In Carroll Gardens Was The Beloved Home Of The Macaluso and Gianquinto Family

377 Union Street between Smith and Hoyt Streets in February 2017
Paul Manafort's investment property at 377 Union Street in 2017
a sketch of the brownstone by Brooklyn Heights artist Robert Gruivel
commissioned by a member of the Macalusos and Gianquintos
Matriarch and Patriarch Gianquinto
Matriarch and Patriarch Gianquinto
Great Aunt Mary Gianquinto

Marriage of Joseph Macaluso and Angela GianquintoJoseph Macaluso, Infant Joan and Dolores 1932Joseph Macaluso with infant Joan and Dolores 1932Joseph and Angela Macaluso at the beach with their family17098384_10212591984497217_4073657137027364578_n-1Carol Ashton, Dolores Kendal, Lois Khatchadourian, Joan Cuttitta, Joseph Macaluso.Grandpa,Dolores, Carole and Joe 1940
Joseph Macaluso, Dolores, Carole and Joe 1940Joan Macaluso Cuttitta Prom 1940
Joan Macaluso Cuttitta's  prom 1940.Prom 2 Dolores and Joan
Dolores and Joan on their second prom.
Great Grandmother  Katherine Gianquinto and Joan Macaluso CuttittaJoan Macaluso Cuttitta with Great-Grandmother KatherineGianquinto Cousins
The Gianquinto Cousins standing in front of the brownstoneTed Cuttitta and Joan Macaluso wedding St Agnes 1952
Ted Cuttitta and Joan Macaluso wedding St. Agnes 1952First round of cousins 1960
More cousins in 1960
14670633_1207898665915787_2154649769265123967_n
Tedd Cuttitta, Joan Macaluso Cuttitta's sonAngela Macaluso in the ParlorAngela Macaluso in the parlor2017-03-31 001 001Joseph and Angela Macaluso4 Generations
Four generations of the family at a get-together a few years agoGrandmas poem 50th anniversary
The Brooklyn Paper July 29-August 11, 1981
Angela Macaluso in her own words

In recent weeks, the circa 150 year old brownstone at 377 Union Street in Carroll Gardens has garnered national attention as one of Paul Manafort's  New York City investment property because of its rather questionable financing.
The current ownership of the building came to light a few weeks ago, when a Union Street neighbor told PMFA that Donald Trump's former campaign manager and high level advisor had left the house and its front yard in a rather sad state after renovation was halted a year-and a half ago.

Among the many comments left by readers on the post, one in particular caught my attention.  It was left by Cathy Fleck, whose family once owned this once majestic brownstone.
Cathy wrote:
"This story has another side which makes it more personal. 377 Union Street was our family's beloved home for generations. This is the home where my great-grandparents lived, where my grandparents raised five incredible children. My grandmother was meticulous with its upkeep. This home is where my cousins and I were taught our family's history through rich storytelling, rich food, and rich imaginations. This is the home whose walls still contain our love and our laughter. This is the home of the Macalusos and Gianquintos! This story is heartbreaking!"

Of course,  I immediately reached out to Cathy to learn more about her family and about its ties to 377 Union Street. In the process, I had the pleasure of not only communication with her, her sister Lois Cuttitta, but also with her mother Joan Macaluso Cuttitta, who was not only born in the brownstone, but was also married there.  At 85 years old, Joan is now the Elder of the family.

Joan and her daughters Lois and Cathy have keen memories of the family home.  The Macaluso and Gianquinto family bought the brownstone in the late 1920s, early 1930s.  Lois and Cathy's great-grandparents lived on the top floor, their great-aunt lived on the second floor, their grand-parents lived on the garden level.  The parlor, according to Lois, was used by everyone.

Joan remembers the height of the ornate plaster ceilings, the marble mantlepieces, the heavy parlor floor doors and the magnificent mahogany bar in the basement that had been left behind by a previous owner, when the basement had served as a speak-easy during the Prohibition.

"Ahh the parlor." Lois remembers. "I used to dance in front of that mirror by the windows as a little girl every time I was there. The chandelier is the original. Most of the pictures of people gathered were in this very room. Push button light switches, and how heavy the front doors were. I remember sleeping on a trundle bed in front of those massive windows in the summer with some of my cousins. Oddly enough, the smell of bus exhaust brings back the greatest memories to me (Bus exhaust! Can you imagine?). I also remember the sound of the banana man hawking his bananas as he pushed his cart down the street." 

As members of the family moved to the suburbs in the 1960s, grandmother Angela Macaluso kept the clan together. On Sundays, the family would gather at 377 Union Street. " There would be 20 to 30 people over for dinner in that house. On holidays, it would easily be double that," Joan told me.
"From 90 to 2, every age would join in.  My mother Angela would cook for all of them.  She made it look easy. It was all out of love."

All three women use the word 'love' often when remembering the brownstone and the family gatherings. "It was a magical place filled with love," Lois told me. "It was such a wonderful life.  The house was well lived in, but my grandmother kept it in pristine shape. We are all still connected to this house. That is why it was so disturbing to see its present condition."

Grandmother Angela was not only a great cook, she went to St. Agnes every day and swept the sidewalk in front of the house twice a day.  She also had time to write poetry and, in 1981,  recalled what it was like living in Carroll Gardens when she was a child in a Brooklyn Paper article.

The family sold the brownstone in 1989-90 after Angela's husband Joseph passed away. "The moment we sold, we regretted it," Lois told me.  "We still think of it as our house.  It was a true gift to have been given such an incredible family and a home so full of happy memories."

Joan, Lois and Cathy want people to look at 377 Union Street not as the unkempt investment property it has become, but as the beloved home it was for many generations of Macalusos and Gianquintos. Most of all, they would like people to know about all the love, joy, and laughter that was shared within.

I am so honored that the family has allowed me to share some of their photos and their stories about 377 Union Street with my readers.
One day soon, I hope to meet the members of the extended family in person, hopefully when they come back for a visit to Carroll Gardens.  When I do, I will take lots of photos, I promise.

 Photo of 2012 sales listing,  courtesy of Corcoran
 Photo of 2012 sales listing,  courtesy of Corcoran

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great follow-up to the big story you broke, Katia. Thank you for staying on this!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Katia for letting the people of Carroll Gardens know this was a home that was a jewel on Union St. Not a dilapidated building. You expressed our home and family's lives perfectly. We all still think of it as our brownstone and it saddens us all to think the legacy that our ancestors built has be so neglected. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You did a wonderful job. I hope to meet you one day. Lois

Tedd Cuttitta said...

Thank you for writing this wonderful story. Wonderful memories this house brings my family is in measurable you posted some of the pictures that I have never seen or not seen in a very long time. So again I thank you for this wonderful article.

Tedd Cuttitta

Unknown said...

What a wonderful tribute to my grandparents and our family. That house had more love and laughter than one can imagine. It breaks my heart that others are not living there enjoying what we did. I just hope that the house is restored to what it was and the neighbors don't have to see that every day. Thank you for bring such attention to this.

- Erica Khatchadourian - granddaughter of Joe and Angela Macaluso

Katia said...

Thank YOU for allowing me to tell the story and for having been such great stewards of the home for so many generations.

The Vegan Version said...

Thanks for your thoughtful article. As one of the "cousins" Cathy mentions, I am saddened to see the state of the house now, but the wonderful family memories created there will live in its walls forever. How nice to see these photographs, all of which I have seen many times, including the artist's rendering that hangs in my house, aggregated in one place like this!

Anonymous said...

It is more than a house. It is a lifetime of memories -- the sound of friends and family laughing together, the sound of someone banging on a pipe to communicate a need to the first person to answer, and the happy shrieks of children sliding down the bannisters. It is the sound of an immigrant family making a house into a home. I have not lived there in more than 50 years, but the home of my heart is still 377 Union Street.
Joseph Macaluso

Jelly said...

Most of the beloved brownstones in carroll gardens have these fabulous stories behind them. Lives lived with love, laughter and family. I know because I've lived it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is wonderful to see how these brownstones have served as a supportive backdrop for family lives throughout the years. ---love the spring time Easter photo of the children lined up on the steps.

Joie Anderson said...

reminds of the closing scenes of the movie "Moonstruck" ~ again, all about keeping the family close and loved.

LLBerm said...

This is the continuing story of New York City which has become the cash cow for investors from all over the world. Another sad commentary of greed changing our home. Very sad!

Mary Hedge said...

What a beautiful, rich and astonishing contrast to the grubby, money laundering, and Russia-connected current owner. Thank you Katia for unfolding this authentic story for us. Mary

Anonymous said...

This family story is real evidence of what the Carroll Gardens neighborhood used to be. I have my own family/extended family stories about growing up here in the 50s-60s. I still live here, but sadly these stories are no longer lived as they were then. I didn't know the Macaluso family, but I can certainly relate to their experiences. Yes, I know, time marches on, things change, but the memories are precious, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

Bob Marvin said...

So Manafort is attempting to be almost as distructive as his boss.

MrsSam said...

Greetings Katia,

This story is one of the things that sets PMFA above the rest! Beautifully done! The love and family bond of the Macalusco and Gianquinto families leaps through this story! Thanks so much for sharing. Just beautiful. Alla famiglia!

Cathy Fleck said...

Hi Katia,

I am so honored that you chose to highlight the very personal, human side to this story. Thank you so much!
Your words truly highlight the love, pride, and respect we have for 377 Union St. and our time in Carroll Gardens. The Macaluso/Gianquinto family has always been very close and the energy your story has generated has added a new chapter to our family's story.
I look forward to the day when you add an update with photos of another family living in this home and beautiful neighborhood.
Warm regards,

Cathy Fleck (granddaughter of Joseph and Angela Macaluso)

Katia said...

the best follow up story would be a photo of members of your family visiting Carroll Gardens and providing all of us with more stories about the neighborhood!