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Grand Prospect Hall

About this listing

An opulent hall for hire

Place Details

Borough : Brooklyn
Neighborhood : Park Slope
Public Hall, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

Grand Prospect Hall was constructed in 1892 as hall for hire, catering to affluent Brooklynites. Notable for its opulent ornamentation, the hall has lured in big-name celebrities over the years such as Jimmy Durante, Bob Hope, Mae West, Lena Horne, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, and Gregory Hines. Grand Prospect Hall once held masquerade balls, a speakeasy, rooftop “Venetian Gardens,” a Masonic lodge, and Columbus Society Balls. Until 1908, it was home to The Crescent Motion Picture Company, which was put out of business by competition from Thomas Edison. The enormous hall was lovingly restored over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, and is as spectacular an example of "gay [18]90s" style as ever.



Nominations

Sindy Morris

I am very honored to nominate where I work, a place with so much history. It is not everyday that people can say they love being at their job. The Grand Prospect Hall was built in 1892. It boasted the first "French birdcage" elevator, the highest roof garden and was the first electrified commercial building in Brooklyn. Prospect Hall was the place for the prominent to parade, celebrate and party. Men in their top hats and tails, women in their jewels and Parisian gowns flocked to the hall by carriage and car to hear presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan speak and opera great Enrico Caruso perform. On balmy evenings, the elite gathered in the Venetian gardens to watch high-class vaudeville and motion pictures--society's tony answer to Coney Island's antics. The performances were of such high caliber that silent film star Sophie Tucker graced a 1910 program. Grand Prospect Hall continued to attract both the famous and infamous. Al Capone frequented the hall's speakeasy during Prohibition. He reportedly received the facial wound that earned his "Scarface" nickname during a fight there. He also frequented the opera and had a balcony box. Lena Horne started her singing career as a teenager at the opera house. Other visiting luminaries included Mae West, Sonja Henie, Bob Hope, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Today, the refurbished Grand Prospect Hall is even more elegant and lovely than its auspicious beginnings. Now a National Historic Landmark, the hall remains a living heritage for all the people representing the American ethnic melting pot. Everyone who enters the extravagant lobby and spectacular spaces feels taller, more important, grander. Although the gold-coast life-style ended years back, the age of opulence lives on at The Grand Prospect Hall.


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