Brooklyn Boro

Brownstone to Beer Hall to Cell Phones: Brownstoner traces Brooklyn building’s history

October 29, 2018 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
385 Jay St. Image © 2018 Google Maps photo
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In a recently revised article, Brownstoner traces the history of 385 Jay St., one of the few mid-19th century brownstones that survives in the Fulton Mall area.

While these brownstones were slowly being replaced by stores, theaters and banks as the area became commercial in the late 19th century, some of them still survived but were converted to other uses.

The building at 385 Jay St., like many others of its type, became a rooming house by 1879. Several businesses occupied the ground-floor space, including a cigar shop that was raided for illegal gambling in 1900.

In 1908, Brownstoner said, the entire building became Engelke’s Alt Deutsche Bier Stube, an old-fashioned German beer hall. The original front was covered with a German-style stucco-and-timber exterior, according to Brownstoner. The top floor became an office, and Mrs. Engelke let a pro-women’s suffrage group meet here.

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Engelke’s wasn’t successful, and the building was sold in 1913, according to Brownstoner. Since then, it has been occupied by a number of businesses, including an engraving firm, a real estate office, a bar and a natural foods store.

Today, it’s occupied by a mobile phone store and a tax preparatory service. The exterior has been renovated several times, but Brownstoner said, “Underneath it all? Bricks and beams dating from the 1860s.”

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