This same headline that appeared here in the Brooklyn Eagle on Sept 24, 1894 would re appear in our local paper the Moriches Tribune sixty five years later on Feb 19th 1959. Of course the latter article was speaking of a different Old Knapp Mansion of the same family however and of a much different outcome. In 1959 the original Knapp Mansion in Brooklyn was still standing...... but it too is now long gone. However here is the story that The Eagle ran 112 years ago today Sept 24, 2006. What caught my attention was the same plans that were held for both residences.
THE OLD KNAPP MANSION
Has Been Transformed Into A Dancing Academy
It Has Been The Scene of Glittering Festivities, Two Presidents*
Having Been Entertained Beneath Its Hospitable Roof -- Some Of Its Associations
* for some odd reason many 19th Century newspapers seemed to forget very quickly that Ulysses Simpson Grant was the 18th president of the United States for 8 years, but rather refered to him as "The General" after he left office. The fact is he was an ex - president when he would call on Mr. Knapp at the mansion, but nonetheless for better or worse, he was a President Of The United States. I wonder how the 21st Century media will refer to George W. Bush when he finally leaves for good?
The transformation of the old Knapp mansion at Bedford Ave and Ross Street, into a dancing academy and place for public assemblages, has been completed and on Tuesday "the mansion"* as it is now called, will be formally dedicated. The programme includes a reception, admission which will be by invitation only, and a musicale.
The old Knapp mansion, although not so very old at that** has been one of the best known residences in the elite neighborhood of the eastern district. It was purchased several years ago by the late Joseph F. Knapp for many years the president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance company. It is said to be the most complete house in Brooklyn, luxury and elegance prevailing in the furnishing and decoration. Adjoining the Knapp mansion was a smaller house, where Mr. Knapp's daughter lived and as the two houses were connected by a conservatory, they were practically one. Both of these buildings are now in the hands of strangers. Mr. Knapp is dead and the other members of his family have moved away.
Mr. Knapp was a royal entertainer, and two Presidents of the United States, Harrison and Cleveland*** have shared his hospitality, and inspected the beauties of his house.
The mansion has now passed into the possession of William Pitt Rivers the well known professor of dancing, who has secured a five years lease of the property, with the privelage of purchase at the expiration of the term. The building which is a spacious one, will under Mr. Rivers' direction take on the character of a public hall or place of assembling. In other words, he hopes to have a Pouch mansion in the eastern district, and thinks there is room for it.**** Already the Amphion Music Society, a well known organization, is discussing the advisability of leaving their present quarters on Clymer street and taking the top floor of the mansion.
During the past week the place has been over run by people who desire to see the beauties of the house about which they have heard so much. The main room on the first floor is the dancing hall, although in case of emergency, the main parlor , the library, and the regular reception room all on the ground floor will also be used for dancing rooms. The dancing hall itself which was the music room when Mr. Knapp was alive, the feature of the house, admittedly one of the finest in the country, and the feature the wealthy occupant most admired. It's construction so different from the ordinary hall makes it a unique and pleasent place for dancing.
On the corner with an excellent view of Ross Street and Bedford Avenue is a large reception parlor which will still be kept as such. The parlor across the way, the diningroom back, and the billiard room will all be devoted to dancers hereafter, Although the entrance way between the two houses has now been blocked up, one half of the conservatory is now in the mansion and this will be used as a smoking room.
In the basement will be the restaurant and kitchens and there will be plenty of room to accomodate good sized supper parties.
At present the third floor is vacant, but the probabilities are that the Amphion society will take it for themselves. Dr. Darlington, the president of the society, is quite interested in the transformation that is going on. Christ church of which he is rector, will hold its annual fair there, November 19,20,21, and 22.
Brooklyn Eagle September 24, 1894
Interesting parallels : *In Mastic Beach during the 1950's "the mansion" only meant one place even though there were five of them still standing then. Manor Of St. George, Bayview, Knapp's Floyd's & Dana's
** The Old Knapp mansion in Mastic Beach was not that old either, most likely it was built circa 1907.
*** It was also written once that Abraham Lincoln was a guest there but I have found nothing concrete to support that. Pres. William McKinley was Phoebe Knapp's guest at her Savoy Hotel Suite
****The same big plans and thoughts of Reverend John P. Skelly when he purchased the Knapp Mastic Beach mansion in 1950
OLD KNAPP MANSION LINKS BOTH BROOKLYN & MASTIC BEACH