Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge Historical Society looks at Ovington Village

March 11, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Andrew Gounardes is president of the Bay Ridge Historical Society. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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The Bay Ridge Historical Society is getting ready for spring by planning an ambitious agenda of programs highlighting not only Bay Ridge’s past, but the history of Brooklyn Heights as well.

Society President Andrew Gounardes and his members meet on the third Wednesday of the month at the Shore Hill Neighborhood Center, between the East and West Buildings of the Shore Hill Residence, at 9000 Shore Road. The meetings, which are free and open to the public, begin at 7:30 p.m.

At the next meeting, on March 18, the topic will be “Old Bay Ridge and Ovington Village.” Matthew Scarpa, the society’s vice president, will offer a presentation on his second book on Bay Ridge, “Old Bay Ridge & Ovington Village: A History.” Scarpa’s latest book features biographies on many prominent Bay Ridge residents of the late 19th century including: Henry C. Murphy, E.W. Bliss, Teunis G. Bergen, Otto Heinigke and Samuel W. Thomas.

Scarpa’s history also includes information on the establishment of Ovington Village in 1850. He will discuss Bay Ridge’s early identity and the neighborhood it was to become. His books will be available for purchase at the meeting.

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Scarpa is also the co-author, with Lawrence Stelter, of “Bay Ridge Then & Now.”

On April 15, rice will be the focus of attention. Chef Renee Morton will talk about the impact that rice has had on world history for nearly 1,000 years.

On May 20, Bob Furman, a member of the society will speak on “Brooklyn Heights, The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of America’s First Suburb.” Furman will explore how the technological improvements of the 19th century gave rise to Brooklyn Heights as America’s First Suburb. He will also discuss many of Brooklyn Heights’ famous residents, Brooklyn and New York City Mayor Seth Low, Henry Ward Beecher, Washington and Emily Roebling and literary artists like Norman Mailer.

“Owl’s Head and the Bay Ridge Parkway” is the topic for the society’s June 17 meeting. The discussion will focus on the community at the turn of the last century, when the neighborhood still had farms but no public parks and planners envisioned an uninterrupted network of green spaces that would start at Fort Hamilton Parkway, curve around Owl’s Head Park and continue down the shore to the U.S. Army garrison at Fort Hamilton.

Not to be confused with Bay Ridge Parkway the street, the Bay Ridge Parkway was supposed to rival other great boulevards in Brooklyn like Eastern Parkway and Ocean Parkway. But that’s not quite how it turned out, society leaders said. Bay Ridge native Henry Stewart will discuss what happened to Bay Ridge’s proposed parkway and how decisions made more than 100 years ago impact Bay Ridge today.

Gounardes said he is excited about the society’s upcoming events. “The Bay Ridge Historical Society is very excited to announce its schedule for Spring 2015. As we have since 1976, the society strives to preserve and share our neighborhood’s incredibly rich history, as well as provide a forum for general history enthusiasts to gather and learn about exciting topics of interest. This spring schedule features two speakers focused on local history, as well as two speakers addressing topics that we think will be of great interest to the community,” he said.

For more information on the Bay Ridge Historical Society, visit


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