Brooklyn Heights

Historic anchor, loved by many, seeks new Heights home

May 20, 2015 By Claude Scales Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 19th century anchor that sits in front of 76 Montague St. takes too much space in the proposed outdoor café of Friend Of A Farmer, the new tenant (see logo, inset). It will most likely find a home, accompanied by a plaque about the shipping heritage in Brooklyn Heights, somewhere along the Promenade. Eagle photo by Don Evans
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A ceremonial departure for the historic ship’s anchor that sat for decades in front of 76 Montague St. will take place soon. Friend Of A Farmer, the new tenant in that building, will offer refreshments as a show of good will to new neighbors and customers in Brooklyn Heights.

The anchor was placed on the site in 1981 when Heights resident Wolf Spille bought the building and placed his ship brokerage firm at that address. Spille wanted to pay tribute to the rich maritime heritage of Brooklyn Heights, where many ship owners and captains lived in the 19th century, including Abiel Abbot Low, prominent in the China trade, and Capt. Waring, for time a privateer during the War of 1812.

This tradition continued into the 20th century, with Spille and with Hans Isbrandtsen, owner of one of the largest cargo liner fleets in the U.S. Merchant Marine, living on Remsen Street. Spille purchased the anchor from a shipyard, verified its authenticity and placed it in front of his building. The anchor is of a type used on large sailing ships in the early part of the 19th century. Spille chose it because it was of about the same age as his building, and may have been used on a ship that visited the docks below the Heights.

Later, when Spille sold the building, the deed transfer carried a provision that the anchor remain in place. Spille, who retired to North Carolina, discovered years later that a subsequent sale of the property did not carry the same provision.

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Friend Of A Farmer has gotten approval for an outdoor café, sans anchor. When he learned of this, Spille began a campaign to keep the anchor somewhere in Brooklyn Heights. Preliminary discussions with Parks Department officials indicate a possibility that it could be placed somewhere along the Promenade; perhaps in the enclosure behind the flagpole at the Montague Street entrance, or in the roundel at the Remsen Street entrance.  The anchor will have to go into storage before a permanent site can be located.

Fortunately, the shipyard owner has offered to store it for free. Still, funds must be raised to pay for the cost of transporting it to the shipyard, and later transporting it from there to whatever will be its final location and installing it there.


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