2005-06-30 / Little Old Canarsie

“Mild” Building Boom In The ’20s

Little Old Canarsie
John Denton

A Summer Sunday On The BayA Summer Sunday On The Bay Around the years from about 1910 to the 1920’s, we had a couple of well-known builders who built some nice homes that are still around and in tip top shape. Three were 2 brothers who did this. One was George A. Morris and the other W. J. Morris, who along with brother Edgar, a very good carpenter, constructed many homes in various sections of Canarsie.

George was the master who usually built five houses in a row, which were sold for twenty-five hundred dollars for the inside ones and around twenty-nine hundred for the corner ones. All you had to put as a down payment was one hundred dollars and pay them off at about ($25) twenty-five dollars per month on the mortgage. There were five on Rockaway Parkway, between Truckleman Lane and Skidmore Lane. Another five on Ave. K. between East 93rd St. and East 94th St. Another group on East 92nd St. between Farragut Road and Old Canarsie Lane (now called Bedell Land). These homes have all stood up through the years although they had to be taken care of by the original owner, or whoever bought one and move in and changed things around. Brother Edgar Morris built himself a nice little bungalow on Ave. K, next to another three that George had built and sold. Right on the spot where the new Canarsie High School came.

Edgar sold this home and went to live in Vir-ginia and then the new owner had this home and went to live in Virginia and then the new owner had this home moved up to a new location on West 96th St. just about a hundred feet north of Avenue J. on a lot which at one time was farmed with corn and tomatoes by an old Canarsien Charles Salzman, the butcher, who had his shop at the corner of East 96th St. and Skidmore Lane. When the new school came in, about 20 nice homes were demolished by the City, which paid off the owners, needing all this land for the school.

Brother William J. Morris built the first small building that was the original headquarters of the American Legion Post No. 573, for the boys who came back after World War I, and then as the population grew, he built the present home about 1925, which is only one of the monuments to his credit, as he also built a fine large home on Flatlands Avnue. and East 95th St. for an old Canarsien, John Biggs, who had a seafood restaurant just outside of Canarsie Park on Skidmore Avenue & East 93rd St. He then built a same type of home for himself on East 94th St., just north of Avnue K,. where he lived with his wife, the former Elizabeth Van Houten, who was the daughter of Isaac Van Houten, an old Canarsie native who served on the Police Force of the Town of Flatlands, and when the village of Canarsie went over to the City of Brooklyn, around 1894, to join the City of New York, he and a few other cops became regular City Police. When he retired in the early teens the pension then was about 12 or 14 hundred dollars per year.

— This is the way Canarsiens got cool during the hot summer months at the turn of the 20th century. Canarsie Historical Society

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